A Shadowrun RP (Game Thread)

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Ziggy began to act fucking bizarre and then Andrew began to back away slowly with a look of mild confusion on his face.

"So's I'm assumin' this wasn't just some fucked up dream yeah? We've been all but ordered by a bunch o' cybergeeks to drop ourselves into Bug City? And they're just assumin' we're cool with this?"

Of course they assume we're fine with this, they're practically dragons.

"Where's Lillian? Where the fucking fuck is Lillian?!"

Shit, they either left the VTOL to the pod people, or took it.

"Shit... I'm guessing on one of these rooftops" he waved his arms around at the buildings around him "or the casino still."

Blue watched the runners and heard them talking, trying to piece together some sort of semblance to a near impossible infiltration of Bug City. He remembered the simulations, they put him through in preparation for his deployment in Bug City and it seemed funny that no matter how far he ran away he still would end up in that place. For the first time his left arm felt a bit "funny".

"Getting to Bug City is the easiest thing on the agenda." Blue said. "I've got a nasty history with Insect Spirits but I'm your best bet in navigating that place and before you ask how we need to plan things out. Jade, once we find Lillian, mind dropping us off some distance away from the place? Since its the UCSA, I expect they got their robot watchdogs sniffing around so any technomancer here worth his two cents should take a crack at it. Now anyone have an idea to deal with the more "organic" obstacles?

Julia opened her eyes, finding herself on a park bench. This was why she hated computers - she could fight her way through an army of people, but all it took was one computer with the right software to shut her down. The only consolation was it wasn't magic.

Sighing slightly, she listened to the conversation for a bit, before jumping in. "How 'bout you get up tell us what's in that case of yours then. If it's money, I says we split it now." Julia needed to jump in there. "I wouldn't. If we need something big to do this job, the money's gonna have to come from that slush fund. Instead, we sit down and figure out how we're gonna do this." she said, then turned to woman with the massive rifle - a woman after her own heart - and added "and if we're gonna do this."

"Jade, once we find Lillian, mind dropping us off some distance away from the place?"
Jade rakes a hand through her hair, looking around frantically. She gulps in air, calming herself as best she can.
"A'right, a'right. One thing at a time yeah?" she says to Blue.
"Can we get about findin' Lillian first? Once that's done I'll take us wherever we're s'posed to be."

Ziggy smiled, but was a bit glum inside. Jade had missed the best bit, not to mention the rejection from Mr. Black. Maybe death was the only thing that would give him solace, after all. He opened up the suitcase while still sitting on it and revealed the contents to the others. Hopefully they would stop pestering him about that. He reached into it and pulled out the commlink and threw it to Jade. "Why not ask the 'cybergeeks' themselves?" He teased.

Sonya didn't like the crypticness of the message that G.O.D had left her, what did they mean by "change everything"? They may be gods of the virtual land, but IRL what could they really do? Sighing and putting the revelation to the back of her mind she got up and surveyed they area.

They had been dumped in the middle of a public park, with all their weapons! Did whoever that had hired them want them arrested before they had the chance to get to Chicago? The surly merc wasn't even sure she would go. The nuyen that had been promised would be useless if they died on this suicide mission; there had to be something else to sweeten the deal, or the otaku had something up their sleeves that would make them go whether they liked it or not.

Sonya didn't like it at all.

"And if we're gonna do this."A female orc said.

"Depends" She replied before marching over to Jade and grabbing the commlink, "What did you mean by "change everything" She barked over the line.

Jade snaps backwards as the sniper snatches the 'link.
"Woah there, no need fer that! You could've asked!"

"What did you mean by "change everything"

"My dear lady, there is no need for hostilities." The elf's calm voice sounded over the commlink. "As an aside, we assure your Rigger comrade that her craft is available. It is unfortunate that recent events have made it impossible to return it to it's garage. We have left the VTOL in a large storage locker in the downtown sprawl, security code 4075."

"Now please, two days is a short time for such an operation. Be sure to use it wisely."

Sonya passed the information onto Jade, she was annoyed that the okatku on the other end of the line hadn't answered her question.

"That still didn't answer my question" She retorted.

"That still didn't answer my question."

"If they found out my real name then they probably have something against you." Blue said to the sniper as he inspected the contents of the briefcase. That's when he started to notice the growing amount of cars honking on the road followed by the commuters who walked past the park. They needed to get out of there and quick.

"We should split and meet up somewhere more discreet than a public park. I have a safehouse close by if nobody has a place to go."

"We should split and meet up somewhere more discreet than a public park. I have a safehouse close by if nobody has a place to go."

"I gotta get to Lillian. Make sure she's safe." Jade says to the cowboy, nodding.
"But you give me the address an' I'll find you after."
She turns to address everyone.
"Other'n that we need to form some kinda game plan yeah? Looks like we ain't got much choice other'n to do this stupid suicide run. But if that's all we got, we need to make do and at least try to form a plan where some of us crawl back alive."

I bet that the O'Malley's could help us out here. Maybe I could pull a few strings. But, should I... Yeah, if I want to get paid, I've got to get to Bug City first.

"I think I know someone willing to help, I'll go check with them"

"We should split and meet up somewhere more discreet than a public park. I have a safehouse close by if nobody has a place to go."

"If you give me the address I'll find it after I'm done."

Ziggy tapped the mecha cowboy on the head, "Finished down there yet?"

It seemed that everyone was heading out, to fetch contacts or otherwise. He though on his contacts, "Ieuan would refuse outright; Kyou-san might be able to get some information; same for Cosmo, save the melted, vodka-soaked brain; Little Miss Ridley might provide some backup... Maybe arrange it so we're Lone Star grunts on an assignment in Bug City. Heh, they do have what... about 60% of UCAS sec cons..." He stretched, now that was an idea. An idea that could work.

"Other'n that we need to form some kinda game plan yeah? Looks like we ain't got much choice other'n to do this stupid suicide run. But if that's all we got, we need to make do and at least try to form a plan where some of us crawl back alive."

"How about... this?" He pointed to a nearby Lone Star vehicle, and gave a grin, "Anyone feel like doin' the Lone Star Shuffle?"

He leaned back, ready to move or answer incoming questions. The public park was getting a little too busy for his taste. One quiet call and maybe they won't have to go through all of that drek. Sneaking, disabling the mechs... That sounded so boring. All they needed was to dress up and smile a bit more. Though something like that would probably be the final favour he could ask of her. Well, things had to end sometime. Even so, things were looking up. Jade had Lillian and Ziggy had, well... Ziggy.

"Anyone feel like doin' the Lone Star Shuffle?"

As Ziggy gave the choice of alternate transportation, Jacob was tempted to take the offer. Anything to get him away from this cluster of clueless runners who had the misfortune of being abducted by a bunch of crazy otaku. However, before he actually spoke, a large van drove into view, parking next to a nearby curb. "Well, my ride is spoken for, so I guess it's time for me to leave you all, people I don't even know, tootles."

With that, Jacob walked over to the van and entered through the back, the van itself driving away a moment later. On the inside, Jacob sat on a bench mounted on the side of the interior, with various gadgets, tools, and drones littering the rest of the compartment on shelves and desks. However, on the far wall, there were an assortment of monitors, all seeming to show data scrolling at a fast pace. "Now can we talk?" An image appeared on the largest monitor, in the center of the array of displays. It was a woman, with long hair that seemed to softly blow behind her on nonexistent wind. She was dressed an old-fashioned kimono with feather falling down her sides. Her entire appearance was given a blue tone, coloring all her features in its various shades. "You drop off the grid for hours, and leave me here fretting. Then, when you come back, you have me call Tharax to come can drive the Carrier to come get you before you'll even tell me what happened to you?"

Jacob rubbed that back of the head, suddenly feeling like a headache was coming on. "Yeah, sorry about that Amilia, didn't really have a choice in the matter. Didn't want a bunch of runners seeing my tech."

The woman, Amilia, pouted a bit as she moved to the other monitors gliding from one to the other. "I did see your 'friends' on the cameras around the park. Though, I can't seem to access the previous footage of your arrival, like it had never been archived."

Jacob nodded as he got more comfortable in his seat. "I would have guessed, the people who caught me looked to be pretty tech-savvy."

"Is that why you're broadcasting?"

Jacob snapped back to focus and stared down the monitor. "I'm what?"

Amilia summoned a panel of information, showing the video of the group waking up in the park. Laid on top of the video was some sort of overlay, showing a pulse of energy emitting from each runner at a distinct interval. "You are all emitting a low-level frequency to an undetermined source, I can't figure out where it's being relayed, but I know there's a transmitter in your head."

"That knife-eared son of a bitch!" Jacob slammed a fist against the wall of the van, whining a bit from the unexpected surge of pain, in both his head and fist. "They shoved a tracker in my head, and I can guess what it's going to do if I don't take this suicide mission." The Mechanist sighed heavily as he thought about his next move, taking up a meditative stance. He only looked back up at Amilia when he had his gameplan. "Round up some of your little birdies, ask The Guru to look up anything and everything about a secret airfield in Chicago and an organization called the 'Great Otaku Division'. Send a message to Nix too, tell him to meet me at the not-so-usual place."

Amilia nodded as two glowing birds flew out of her kimono, soon disappearing in the digital ether. "Done. In the mean time, mind telling me what the hell is going on?"

"Round up some of your little birdies, ask The Guru to look up anything and everything about a secret airfield in Chicago and an organization called the 'Great Otaku Division'. Send a message to Nix too, tell him to meet me at the usual place."

Jacob recounted the tale to Amilia. In time, the digital birds carried their messages back to the Mechanist.

The Great Otaku Division is a tribe of otaku that aims to improve the world situation and protect it in general from the machinations of Matrix threats most people do not understand. The G.O.D. have advanced technology and a number of skilled personnel in their ranks. There are branches stationed around the world, including America, Europe, and Asia. The otaku do not always 'play nice' and their activities have been known to include assassinations, manipulation, and blackmail.

As for the airfield, the UCAS uses cargo planes to fly over the Chicago CZ, including C-260 Titan and C-500 Galaxy transports. On the plane, there will be pallets with supplies and parachutes. He's also identified the routes used by the supply trucks. When the plane goes over the drop zone, a bay door will open and the pallets will be rolled out. If you land and raid a pallet, you'll find food, water and medical supplies, all useful as currency in Chicago (actual nuyen is worthless there).

Blue got back to the safehouse relatively quickly. After unlocking all the doors and locks, he still found Red to be missing but suddenly he received an IM detailing her extended absence. Apparently it was the Knights Errant after all and she programmed the IM to be sent once Blue even walked in through the door. Red couldn't bothered with for the time being so he had to write her off the list of contacts he could use. White and Green on the other hand were still of use but none of which he saw fit at the moment.

So Blue took his time to preparing for the infiltration and eventually, Bug City. He fashioned a sling for his brand new laser rifle that he obtained from the motel, fixed up a few scrapes and packed for a long trip. That's when he realized he needed a few things from White.

10 hours later...

The dank smell of the sewer bit at his nose even from a few yards away. Blue stood outside a sewer entrance and surrounding him was the large slopes of an artificial valley made of concrete. This place was supposed to contain the huge surges of water from rain storms and other more extreme weathers but now it stood empty and barren. The sun left the sky leaving a yellow and orange residue in the sky that mixed with smog of the surrounding industrial buildings. The factories and refineries were shutting down though, making the streets trickle with workers and skies with carbon dioxide.

Blue awaited White, while his Duster's ends floated in the wind. Then he heard it. Footsteps were coming from the sewer by the way he heard it. It sloshed through waste and out White came but to anyone else, he could have been a regular office worker. White wore a pit-stained, plain polo shirt with a few pens in the pocket while his long legs were covered with some khakis anyone would have. White had no implants, no augmentations, no scars, no record, no true identity but for what he deals. In his hand was a suitcase, the other held a pen.

"Nice seeing you again." White said, taking a few more steps towards Blue before taking a seat on the surface of the large slope. "I thought you would getting something more special for this kind of job. Other people might have bought drones, HAVOC grenades, more guns maybe. Do you really trust these people?" White opened his suitcase.

"I trust these people. For some reason, these Shadowrunners have a lot more on the line than the usual bunch. They got some special skills and for once I'm not the Swiss army knife anymore." Blue looked at his mechanical hand. White chuckled.

"Big Blue's gone soft." White teased. He brought a simple, blank spray can. White opened the cap and sprayed just a tiny bit on his pointer finger. "Here, take a look." White gave Blue a thermal optic lens as he approached. Blue peeked through, seeing the hot thermal image of the rest of his hand but his finger completely missing. "This thing also works as a flame thrower too, just don't put it too close to the flame source. Old school but it doesn't rely on a power source, can be washed, and it doesn't leave behind a faint electronic signature."

"Huh, I can't believe it works." Blue scoffed.

"That's what happens when you doubt me. Kinda looks like the war paint the old Native Americans used to use, don't you think?" White asked.

"That's why I picked it."

White smiled and wiped off the thermal hider from his hands and fetched five robotic fingers from the case. Blue took them and put them in the sockets of his hand, replacing the old ones for now. They fit snug in their new sockets. Blue moved his fingers, testing for a grip and responsiveness of which was slightly less than the original fingers.

"The pinkie's gonna cut through the wires nice and quiet with that HF blade. The ring finger's filled with emergency adreneline like you asked. Your pointer's vid cam should be already synchronized with you as we speak. There's three high heat mini-flares in your thumb so you can navigate those tunnels or throw off a missile. Finally, there's no reusing that middle finger of yours. Once that missile is gone, it's gone. "

"I can't thank you enough, White." Blue smiled. White simply closed the suitcase and began walking back to the sewer entrance.

"I had them lying around when you asked for them, it wasn't that hard. Plus... you'll need them for Bug City. God knows, I could have used it."

"The Knights are after Red. It's only a matter of time..." Blue laughed a bit. "Till they find out you still work for them."

"It took Green a long time to figure out it was still me. It took you two years to-"

"Same mind, different body. I get it. I get it. Think we'll ever see each other again?"

"Is the sun gonna rise tomorrow?" With that, White was gone from sight. Blue let him go without protest. Blue tested his new fingers once more by quickly drawing his revolver from its holster which was less faster than to what he previously had due to the weight in his new fingers but it wasn't anything that really slowed him down. Still, it was good enough and the satisfied Blue sent out an IM to the other shadowrunners.

Billy walked along the street quietly. He must have walked this same street hundreds of times, but this time, things felt... different. He didn't know why, he didn't know how, it just did.

Billy cleared his head, and walked into a nearby bar. The place was dim, smoky, and had a almost hostile air about it. It was empty, save for three gentlemen talking at the bar.

Placing his hat on a rack, he sat down a few seats down from the gentlemen. The bartender went up to ask him what he was having, but Billy waved him away. He wasn't here for that. One of the gentlemen glanced over at him, then went back to talking, quieter this time.

"Pretty dead place you got here," Billy said, a bit louder than he needed to, "Where is everyone?" The men looked over at him.

"Pipe down over there," one of them said, "We've got rules about noise here,"

Billy nodded, when he noticed the men were still looking at him, he mouthed the word, "Omerta". The men got up, and sat closer to Billy.

After a few minutes of waiting in silence, the largest of the three began, a bear-like man with a scar running down his face, began, "Didn't expect to see you back here so soon," he said, "What do you want?"

"Help," Billy answered, "I need to speak with your boss,"

The 2nd man, only a few inches shorter than the 1st, and many pounds heavier, spoke, "I don't think Rowena wants t-"

"Not her," Billy interrupted, "I mean your immediate boss,"

The men gave Billy a funny look for a moment, then the 1st man nodded, sending the shortest of the three to the back. After about fifteen minutes had past, the man came out, with his boss, a 50-something year old man, walking behind him. The older man walked up to Billy, who stood up to greet him.

The man spoke, "Good to see you stopping by to visit your old mentor," he said, sending the three men away, "Now, the boys told me you need help"

As the three goons disappeared into the back room, Billy spoke up, "I need your help with a break in" Billy went on to explain the situation to his mentor (omitting how he got the contract), who listened with what can only be described as a mix of confusion and shock.

"So, you and some other Shadowrunners need to break into a military airbase, stowaway on a military drop-ship, and then get into Bug City?"

Billy nodded, "Yes, an I came to you because we need a chance to break in, and I was hopping you-"

"Could provide a distraction." his mentor finished.

Billy nodded, "I know you have contacts with the more magically adept members of the organization, and I was hoping you could just make some noise and draw away the military for a few minutes,"

"Will we be fighting?" his mentor asked

Billy quickly shook his head, "No, not at all. I just need you to draw them away from the base. Once they get close, just leave. If we're not in the base by that time, then we're not getting in at all."

His mentor nodded thoughtfully, "I'll do it," he said, "but you have to be in there the moment they leave. I;m doing this because you're my pupil, but I'm not going to risk anyone's life for you, capiche?" He said.

"Capiche" Billy said

"Good," his mentor said, standing up and walking to the back, "I've got a chess game set up in the back, feel free to stop by if you're not busy," Billy smiled and followed after his mentor.

-10 hours later-
Billy's buzzer went off. Checking it, he noticed an IM from an unknown number.
We need to plan. Meet here: 47 degrees 33'49.91"N 122 degrees 20'03.81" W

How did that guy get my number?

Turning to his mentor, Billy stood up, "Thank you for your hospitality," he said, "but I have to go."

His mentor nodded, but before Billy could walk out, he added "Billy, if anyone asks, we never spoke, got it,"

Billy turned, "Yes sir" He then turned back around, and walked out, taking his hat off the rack as he did.

Andrew took his cut and walked away from the group realizing they were off to talk to their people. He would have been off to do the same, but his people had been mindjacked. Andrew did have one person left though, one of Bill's old contacts, someone who could be trusted. After years of back alley surgery he had begun to work for crashcart. Andrew knew him as John.

Andrew walked down to a storage facility with his emergency gear in it. It was a place the others wouldn't know about. He began pulling gear off the shelves. A CBRNe suit with Feedback tech and AR ware, to go under his clothes. A full gasmask with AR ware. A flare gun. A loaded revolver. Two backup drones. Food, water, meds, ammo, etc. Then he packed it in a rucksack from the corner and put it on his back.

Andrew contacted John and arranged an appointment, at a secure site.

2 Hours Later...

Andrew walked into the corporate hospital, it had a sickly sterile feeling to it. After five minutes of waiting, one of his names was called into a room. One inside he noticed that the full diagnostic station had already been prepared. John was sitting there, he was a middle aged man, almost average in every way except for the balding.

John looked up at Andrew and said "Bill's kid right? Full examination, diagnostic, and scrub?"

Andrew looked at him again before speaking looking for any metallic glint in his eyes, he saw none. "Yeah, thanks for seeing me on such short notice."

"I owed your father money so I figured I didn't really have a choice. Now if you've backed up your files we can begin as soon as you sit in the chair."

Six Hours Later...

Andrew woke from a soft pulsing noise in his head. John was pacing in the room as he waited for Andrew to wake.

John noticed Andrew was waking and spoke "Ok, good news or bad news."

"Good first."

"Ok you're perfectly healthy and your ware is clean, healthy, and functioning perfectly. However I found a fresh implant. It's a cortex bomb, and it's transmitting. I would have removed it here and now, but it's in there good, and I don't have the tools to remove it here."

Andrew was half shocked, half unsurprised at this. Definitely pissed. "Fuck... and Thanks, atleast I know now."

Andrew got up and began to walk out of the room, before John spoke up "Aren't you gonna pay?"

Andrew stopped and spoke "I wired it to you before I walked into the hospital, plus tip." and then he walked out of the hospital back to his storage space.

2 Hours Later...

Andrew got a message through his bracer.

We need to plan. Meet here: 47 degrees 33'49.91"N 122 degrees 20'03.81" W

Good sign or trap..? Andrew began making his way towards site of the meeting.

It took a few hours for Jacob to get to his destination, time spent analyzing what little he had to go on in his situation, but he had finally reached his goal...a club. While it wasn't his usual retreat, the club Big Bad Boro owned, it was a nice spot, with plenty of dark places for personal business.

With a wave of his hand, and a little help from Amilia, Jacob found himself on the guest list, and was quickly ushered inside. Past security, he didn't waste time getting to the second floor, with the private booths. Counting the rooms as he passed by, Jacob soon came upon number 13, rolling his eyes as he remembered the rather simplistic "unlucky aversion" story behind the room's rental.

Slipping inside, Jacob found his contact, Anton Nix, sitting in the room, his back to the door. The Mechanist approached the blonde-haired elf from behind, bringing his lips close to the elf's neck. "If you think you're getting that after making me wait for hours, you better have brought something worthwhile." Without looking away from the window overlooking the rest of the club, Anton gestured to a nearby chair.

Practically sulking into his seat, Jacob took a chance to finally look the Mage in the eye. It had been months since they last met, thanks to their competing schedules, so he let a moment of silence hang as he tried to see what had changed. At a glance, not much, Anton still had an odd-looking tribal tattoo that ran from the left side of his face all the way down his left arm. The only other thing worth noting were his eyes, which reflected the shifting lights of the dance floor like diamonds. "Oh come on, weren't you just waiting for me to call again? I know you don't like to be the one who begs." Jacob enjoyed playing a bit with Anton when they met, contrasting from his partner's stiffness in meetings. "I figured you would jump at the chance to see me."

"I'm here, aren't I?" Anton raised his arms in a wide gesture before letting them fall limp on the table. "You really shouldn't play this game after making it sound like you were in trouble."

Jacob sighed as he dropped the act, obviously Anton wasn't in the mood this time around. "Having a bomb in my head is trouble, isn't it?"

Anton shot a harsh look at Jacob, thinking that he was lying again. However, after seeing the look of seriousness on the technomancer's face, he stretched out his hand. "Let me see." Jacob obliged as he tilted his head down, letting Anton grab onto his forehead. In an instant, there was a tingling sensation as an ephemeral being flew itself through Jacob's grey matter, making the man jerk slightly. After the sensation passed, Jacob could feel nails digging into his skin, making him tear his head away from Nix's vice-grip. When he looked up, he saw the look of fury on Anton's face, one he had only seen once before, when they met. "Who did this to you? Give me a name or a place and I'll smear the streets of the city in their blood!"

Aw, he does care. Jacob inwardly smiled s he looked out the room's window. "I don't suppose you know what the 'Great Otaku Division' is? They're the ones who did this, and now I find myself on my way to Chicago to do a run for them."

"The 'Great Otaku Division'?" Anton sat back in his chair and closed his eyes for a moment, apparently trying to call the name from memory. "Never heard of 'em, but I can tell you this: if it wasn't for that bomb in your head, I wouldn't let you go to Chicago. I only went there once, a run to extract a corporate bigwig who got trapped there somehow, and let me tell you, once was enough. If you really have to go, bring every drone you got, and steal any more you come across."

Jacob couldn't help but smile at the suggestion. "My usual strategy?" The joke got a short laugh out of both of them, cut short by Jacob's holoemitter beeping. With a sigh of grief over the dead joke, Jacob flipped it on to reveal a miniature version of Amilia. "I know you didn't want to be disturbed, but you have been sent a message by one of the other runners about your mission." Amilia raised a hand towards Jacob and the message appeared, displaying instructions and the sent coordinates.

"Oh, so at least you aren't going alone, I guess they're other hostages?" Anton got a nod as confirmation from Jacob, but nothing more. "Well, I guess that means it's time to depart...let's meet again soon, eh? Maybe under better circumstances?" Even though his friend was busy looking at the message, a slight smile on his face was the only answer he needed. "Later." The door to the private room shut a second later.

"I assume Tharax has gotten directions?" Jacob finally spoke to his Sprite, who gestured to the door.

"The engine is revved and all warmed up, he waits only for the passenger."

Park - Thirty Minutes Later

Left alone with the suitcase, Ziggy slung it over his shoulder and walk down the pavement. But walking was just so pedestrian anyway. True, the Lone Star vehicle looked tempting, but why steal that went he had his own chauffeur? With one quick message, an almost identical vehicle made its way to Ziggy's location. Behind the wheel was a very pissed off Ork. But the damn dandelion-eater had promised this would be the last favour. Well, the penultimate. She had been careful and had keep records of the favours the damn knife-ear asked of her and she was just a smidgen away from that magic number. Her mother had always told her to find outlets other than drinking for her anger, if only she had listened to that piece of advice. But now was not time for regrets... The painting was a stupid one anyway. Nevertheless, she arrived there, and Ziggy walked up to the vehicle's door and smiled.

"Get in." Riley spat out.

The colourful Elf was more than happy to oblige and took the back seat, "Wanna know what it is this time, miss?"

"Something big. Something that could get me fired, as always." She growled.

Ziggy purred, "Shush. No one will know. Besides, I'll tell you when I get there."

The Ork just growled again in response and brought her focus back to the task at hand. This was just a waste of her downtime. She could be catching up with the lads, or have a quick shower, or taunt those Knight Errant assholes. She sighed as her mind continued listing the possibilities. But at least the end was in sight, if the little weasel stuck to his words. As she turned at an intersection, Riley cast her eyes back to Ziggy, who had chosen to ignore all safety laws and was just there lounging on his back. She sighed again. If she was to... create an accident, she would be free of this annoyance. But the cost of the vehicle would be docked from her pay. Riley had already done that at least once, but then was she actually doing her job... It wasn't worth it.

Stardust - Two Hours Later

The duo got out and went onto the club. Or rather, Ziggy decided to create an entrance. As he got out, he froze in mock surprise when the patrons of the club spotted him. Afterwards, he made of show of running away. Riley sighed and did as expected and grabbed the lanky eccentric just about as he left the entryway to the club and threw him back. 'At least she didn't wreck more of my baby." Ziggy thought as he picked himself back up. This time, he swayed his hips from side to side as he walked to the door. Then, he grabbed the handle and leaned back, creating an ballerina-like pose. The door open, and with Ziggy being ever the gentlemen, Riley simply walked in and took her usual seat right next to the bar where a Fomori was pretending to wash a few glasses. Like there weren't any machines for that! Ziggy sprung into action and pointed the finger at Ieuan and the other regulars.

"YOU! In the back room! Now!" He said with theatrical flare.

They assembled there, all of his contacts in one tidy room. In unison they asked, "What is it?"

"I've got a 'run to do and I need you~" Ziggy half-sung, "In the great city of Chicago no less."

Cosmo spoke up, "Vot is plan, then? You better have good plan."

Ziggy then went into detail about the plan. They, with the help of Riley, would disguise themselves as Lone Star officers with assignment in Chicago and board the flight. Kyou-san hopefully would, as always, dish out the dirty on Yak operations there and hopefully get the Yaks in the Box on side. Cosmo would be on hand if needed, even if she was hesitant about hacking in a big organization again. But the need for alcohol came first, as always. Ieuan would just stand back and run Stardust while the head honcho was away. As Ziggy explained that part out, there was a beautiful moment between the two as even the great Ziggy had doubts about the mission and instruction Ieuan to take the reins of Stardust if Ziggy didn't return. It was clear, it was mostly up to Miss Hermanson. And that was where Ziggy had his doubts. The Lone Star officer could turn on him the millisecond he got to Chicago.

Industrial District East of Seattle - Seven and a Half Hours Later

After a very long discussion about the logistics of the plan, not to mention an argument or two, he got a message. '47 degrees 33'49.91"N 122 degrees 20'03.81" W, huh? He pondered. Well, It was time for another long drive, much to Riley's chagrin. Still, much of the fire had been used up in the little 'discussion' they had about Ziggy's great plan. It was a logistical nightmare, true, but Ziggy had some hope. If it worked, then it made things a lot simpler. If it didn't, then Ziggy would go in a blaze of glory. Either way, he won. He smiled as he walked towards the meeting point. It seemed to be a safehouse of sorts. As Riley drove away, he cursed himself. Why didn't he bring his little crew here? Well, nothing could be done now...

As the group broke to find their various contacts and gatherer their resources, Julia decided to do the same. She wasn't sure what her own contacts could offer, but then that's what contacting them was for. She also, admittedly, had a large supply of fire arms to pack. She exited the part with due haste, returning to her apartment quickly enough. She took a few detours in case any of them had the bright idea of following her.

Julia's apartment, perhaps because of her nature, looked nothing like what one would expect from an ex-military Orc. First, the room was a well cleaned white-pink in color. It had a sizable kitchen in one corner, with a large number of cooking appliances that seemed almost new; she'd always enjoyed cooking, but she's never had much time for it. In another corner of the cramped apartment lay a door to her bathroom. Before it were a few ancient chairs, saved from the scrap heap by her timely intervention. A small table sat in the middle - finishing her combination dining and sitting area. along the remaining wall lay her bed - perfectly made per basic training standards - and a pair of bookshelves that wrapped around one of the two corners. Opposite the bookcase corner was a single, open closet which contained a number of clothes and her bags. A single, barred, window was above her bed; frosted over at the late hour.

When she arrived home, Julia began the task of packing her bags with the haste and precision of a trained professional. Julia took out her two large, olive-green military duffels and placed the bags on her bed. Then, turning around, she ran her finger down the edge of one of her bookcases, flipping the secret latch that protected her weapons. She pulled out the bookcase, revealing a small alcove. Weapons of a dozen varieties covered the walls, each with crates of ammunition stored below. In the center of the alcove stood a column from which hung a number of specialized tools - most notably two dozen grenades of various designs and a few blocks of plastique.

She started with her prized weapon - her Ares Thunderstruck Gauss Rifle. She grabbed it and all the ammunition and stowed it in the bag. What followed were a half dozen weapons including her collapsible sniper rifle, an SMG, and a pair of handguns + all the helpful ammo. She included two combat knives as well as her utility war-axe. Next came her field repair kit and her medical kit. By this point, her first bag was full and her second was nearly there. The rest of her second bag was dedicated to some field-rations and all her explosive ordinances.

She zipped up the bags, and placed them on the floor carefully. She made a meal then sent out a message to her contacts. The message was short and sweet - as she always was with them. It said something along the lines of what the status of Chicago was, justified by a BS claim of a child of a friend running away to the city and her own need to "retrieve" him. It was as good an excuse as any and allowed her to feign innocence about her less legal activities. She included the coordinates she'd gotten, seeing if they knew what it might line up to. It was a risk, but information tended to win battles more then all the guns she'd ever owned could. And she'd owned a lot of guns.

She knew it would take some time before the contacts would get back to her, so she had no qualms with sleep. Besides that, once they reached the field, there would be no promise of good sleep until they returned. Or died - that was a good kind of sleep she supposed. She took a small pill of K-10, then closed her eyes letting the darkness take her.

---8 Hours Later---

Julia awoke to the sound of of a message pinging her comm-link. Still half asleep. she grabbed the small device and answered. We need to plan. Meet here: 47 degrees 33'49.91"N 122 degrees 20'03.81" W it said; no doubt from one of the other runners. Seeing how it had awoken her, she rolled over and checker her messages for other information. Her contacts had proven somewhat less helpful then she'd hoped - giving her only the basic information about the cities and questioning what she was up to. One had been kind enough to give her a map of the city with the coordinates marked off - listed as an underground bunker of some sort. It wasn't much, but it was helpful.

it was the last message that was the most helpful however. Her former commander, in all his incredible abilities, perhaps sensing that they were up to no good, offered her a veritable treasure trove of information and special privileges. First, was a schedule of UCAS flights to Chicago; listing where they left from and where they went and at what times. He also suggested a few escape routes. The first was a water treatment facility not far from the LZ. With the water lines, they could escape the city with relative ease - assuming they could get enough re-breathers and could face whatever might be in the derelict system. The second option was the presence of a Renraku Helicopter still in the long abandoned Renraku HQ. With a little luck and some pilot-soft (and a few bribes to the local radar operators) they could escape that way. He'd even offered to "preoccupy" the guards in a pinch and to sell them some uniform and ID info; all they'd need to get on the base. Julia sent him a reply, offering her thanks and a note that she owed him more then a few for all the help.

Getting up, she returned to her closet and pushed the back wall slightly; revealing the false back. Within she found a pair of handguns - which she ignored - and her UCAS powered-armor. So began the arduous task of strapping all her armor in place. it took nearly half an hour to get it all in place and laying well, but it was worth the effort. She packed the helmet in her bag - thinking it was a little too conspicuous on the streets. She covered her armored form with a long coat to make the entire ensemble less conspicuous, then grabbed a cheep, warm meal. She eat it quickly without fanfare, grabbed her bags - tossing them over her shoulders - and her stash of K-10, then made her way out to the meeting spot; ready for anything.

Blue arrived at the location of the safehouse and soon enough he saw the Shadowrunners arrive one by one.

"What's the line for?" Blue joked as he walked past them and led him to the safehouse. Inside, it looked like a regular apartment but the peeling wall paper revealed hardened walls. There were no windows and the glow of CCTV monitors shone in the room down the hall, mixing with the sallow light from the living room and kitchen. It wasn't anything special but there was an air of security in the room. The living room was bare, and besides the bookcases, a basic TV sat against the wall opposite from the hallway leading to two different rooms. There was a couch in between the TV and hallway with a rug underneath it that looked incredibly out of place. Bookcases rung around the living room both with books and containers labelled with odd titles. The beige colored containers matched the tiles in the kitchen oddly, and the rest of kitchen as well. Though it looked homely, the safehouse smelled of gun powder and leather and in the background the sound of a fan spinning to aerate the place can be heard.

"Alright, let's cut to the chase. How do we do this?" Blue asked. He fetched a map of Bug city from a container in the bookshelf. "By the way don't touch anything, I'm borrowing this place from a friend."

"Alright, let's cut to the chase. How do we do this?" one of the other Runners said as he let the group into the safehouse.

"I've got a few ideas." Arsenal began, as she sent the information she'd gathered to the others. "My contacts tell me that Asclepion's hardware is in this-" she said, pointing the information out on a map of the city "-area. There's a bunker there; probably the true location. Unfortunately, all I know about the bunker is it's location." she said, freely admitting the lack of intel on the matter; hopefully one of the other runners will have more exact details.

"I also found us a way into Bug City and two possible ways out." she said, beginning the next stage of her info dump. "I've got the records of what planes are going in and out of Bug Capital, where they;re starting, where they're ending, and what times their going. An old friend can give us a distraction in a pinch and has agreed to sell us some UCAS uniforms and ID info should we be interested."

She stepped into her third piece of information without pause. "The two possible ways out are the old Water Treatment plant for the city, whose service tunnels honeycomb the area. The plant isn't far from the LZ, so it shouldn't be too difficult to get to in a pinch, but you're gonna need a way to breath in the flooded pipes, and we'll have to be ready for anything we find down there. The second option is at the Chicago Renraku HQ. When the rifts first opened, Renraku was near the epicenter. The people were killed before they knew what hit them. As a result, their Chopper is still on the roof; ready for take off. Down side of this is it's smack dab in the middle of bug central station and we'll need someone who can fly the bird. We'll also need to slip some bribes to air traffic control; they tend not to like unscheduled flights."

When she'd finished, Arsenal took a breath and waited for the next party to give the results of their gathering; saying "Anyone else got something to add?"

"Anyone else got something to add?"

"I unfortunately couldn't dig up anything more than the public record today, because my contacts have been mindjacked, or are hiding from the ones that have been."

"However in regards to your intel. I have a set of skillsofts sitting on a server, atleast two of them are chopper piloting. I can program a UCAS IFF, or atleast one that could fool the average ATC. I can make it look like it was scheduled, but I'm guessing they'd notice the fact that we were taking off from inside the quarantine zone, and realize the ruse, rendering the IFF useless. We'd need to bribe them to complete the disguise, unfortunately I don't have any contacts there. My gear is waterproofed, and my gasmask can accept a close circuit system if we need to use the tunnels however. And I'd like to purchase an ID and a uniform for the airport. They're less likely to shoot us down if they don't realize we're not supposed to be on it."

"Anyone else got something to add?"

Ziggy immediately jumped on the sofa and lounged on it, giving the other 'runners a full view of himself. He picked his fingernails while the others spoke about their plans. He was slightly annoyed that someone had already beaten him to the chase and had gotten a way inside, from someone inside UCAS no doubt. Did no one want to dress up as bumblebees? They had the more colourful uniforms at least. But there was a spanner in the works, and the the other 'runner immediately picked up on that. Wouldn't a little Lone Star magic solve that? Ziggy grinned from pointed ear to pointed ear and sat up.

"Weeeeell." Ziggy began, "I've found someone willing to turn us into Lone Star grunts on an assignment." He tapped his nose, "That's all I'm telling though, if you want to wear the dull uniforms of the UCAS officers instead. Your choice..."

"Anyone else got something to add?"

Jacob stared at the map of Bug City and formulated a few of his own plans, keeping into account what the other runners had in mind. "I didn't get much info regarding the city itself, but I do that money is worth next to nothing when you live in such a craphole. We should jack some supplies the dropships send to the city to get some leverage on the locals." The Mechanist shrugged, remembering little details from the airfield. "If we could find the room, I'd love to take those military 'bots with us. If we decided to dress up as UCAS soldiers, we could say they need to come with us."

"Anyone else got something to add?"

Looking at the map, Billy tried to figure out any possible alternatives out of the city. Finding none, he spoke up, "Yeah, I have some friends that have already agreed to give a distraction. They'll draw some of the UCSA goons out of the camp, but only for a little while. Also, I might be able to find some contacts in Bug City itself, but don't hold me to that."

One of the other runners made a suggestion of his own "We should jack some supplies the dropships send to the city to get some leverage on the locals."

That can only end one way...

"Yeah, probably a bad idea. The last thing we needs are a bunch of desperate locals creating a huge mess trying to get to those supplies. We could try and take them for ourselves, but if we start flaunting them, people are going to be coming after us. Desperation can make people do crazy things."

"Desperation can make people do crazy things."

Jacob closed his eyes for a moment as he stealthily rolled them. "A poor choice of words, pardon me. I was trying to say that food, water and medicine are worth more than Nuyen there. I think we should steal some of the drops for currency, not to put the squeeze on the downtrodden. So long as we don't haul them through the streets, the locals won't even know we have supplies." Thinking on the implications a bit longer, Jacob shrugged. "Of course, some well-placed chaos can be a good thing, certainly would draw away a lot of prying eyes."

Anthony looked at Jacob "We're going in with an airdrop, if we're going to steal one it should be that one."

He then looked at Ziggy "If we were to go in as lonestar, what would the job be guised as?"

By the road leading towards the airfield was a sign:

STOP!

GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. RESTRICTED AREA
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT.
ALL OTHERS ARE SUBJECT TO ARREST AND PROSECUTION.
THIS MEANS YOU

The road continued past even more intense warning signs. The last one actually said: YOU MAY BE SHOT.

The road came to a checkpoint station set along a twelve-foot chain link fence. There were towers behind it, with outlines of guards on duty and massive lights that shone down to illuminate fields of grass. The facility was a cluster of squat, unattractive buildings that all looked as if they'd been built forty years ago. There were three very large buildings that looked like aircraft hangars, each about fifteen stories tall with a door you could run a highway through. Outside were stacks of pallets and storage units. There were a lot of vehicles: trucks, Humvees, even some tanks. There was a concrete tower near the airfield. On top of it was an array of antennas and sensor equipment. There was noise coming from the barracks and mess hall. Bulletin boards on the building exterior were laden with charts and small posters reminding everyone that "Security is our business" and exhorting everyone to tolerate "Zero Defects".

image

And there were airstrips; long runways where aircraft gathered in preparation for departure. Periodically, the sound of engines thundered across the field as the planes rushed down the strip and lifted off into the night sky. Crews of technicians swarmed over each plane, checking instrument panels, running jets of water over the outside, and attaching fuel lines while men and units of cargo were loaded up the ramp.

Robots patrolled the area. An inexpensive security bot and the favorite of Third World countries and corporate security divisions. It was a little thing with four small machine guns, firing the powerful 7.62x51mm NATO round. They rolled around on treads instead of legs, making them deceptively fast, though the AI was limited.
-

image

The UCSA uniform began to strangle Blue. He tugged at the collar on the road to the base. They were going in quiet for the most part, with the female orc acting as their commander because she explained that she once was part of the UCSA. It had cost Blue part of his share to buy his UCSA uniform, fake ID and rebreathers for a nice swim in a water treatment plant that was probably being used by the insect spirits. All they had to do now is to play soldier, make their way to the hangar, and "requisition" a ride to Bug City. This would be the easy part. The base loomed over the horizon in the background while in front of them lay a checkpoint station that was customary of any base.

Their Humvee rolled into the checkpoint station with an ID signed onto their IDs thanks to the Seattle Blackmarket. It was a regular one and Blue was sure there were many like it once they would get to the base. He could feel the cameras look over the vehicle but Blue kept it cool and hoped the orc could act up her part.

image

Arsenal drove slowly down the empty road toward the military base in the massive, olive green van they'd rented to sell the trick. Before they arrived, she took a moment to glance behind her to make sure the others were ready. The runners in the van were similarly dressed to military spec or in Lonestar getup, ready for the first step of their plan. A large, heavy metal crate sat in the middle of the van, chained to the floor to prevent it from moving. Inside the metal box were all their less-than legal equipment, including many of her guns and explosives.

The tension in the air was thick as she pulled up to the guard post; most of their plan hinged on their successful infiltration. She rolled down the window quickly and held up her ID without fear. Unlike some of the others, her ID had the added effect of representing a real soldier - herself. "Captain Weinberg; UCAS Seals. Authorization number TQ47658-Alpha." she said, giving her various credentials as the gate's protector approached. "Requesting permission to enter base; mission classified top secret."

Now to hope the ID's were valid.

One of the floodlights shone on the van as it came down the road, illuminating it until reached the checkpoint station.

"Captain Weinberg; UCAS Seals. Authorization number TQ47658-Alpha." The Ork woman in the driver's seat said. The guard stared at her. He took the ID passcard from the vehicle and held it in his hand while he brought the flashlight over it.

The photo was of her face, with a color coded strip to designate active duty. The contactless integrated chip was there, holding all of it's biometric information. It listed dates of issue and expiration, The woman's pay grade and rank, her blood type and date of birth. And finally, the UCAS seal and her signature. The card bore all the the marks of a UCAS ID.

"Requesting permission to enter base; mission classified top secret." She finished.

He looked up and leaned his head to the window and van interior. He held his flashlight up to shine it at Billy, Blue, and Sonya. The van was full of UCAS airmen and a few officers from Lone Star, seated with a metallic storage unit.

"Welcome, Captain", he finally said. He gave the card back and backed up. One of the guards pressed a panel and the metal barriers gave way to allow the van through.

The vehicle came onto the base. They drove quietly. Arsenal had gotten them through the front gate, but they still had to keep a low profile (that the darkness aided). A thunderclap sounded somewhere in the distance. The van winded around buildings, passed dropoff zones where pallets where stacked, and made their way to the hangars and airstrips, until the plane Arsenal's contacts had identified came into view, being washed on the runway.

Kris blibked and looked around he had to think of something fast a dropoff in a place called bug city and he was allready getting railroaded. rumors were abound that a group of runners matching the desrcption of his allies had been seen in the area. The adept precher simply nodded as he pulled out his old team commlink from the casnio incident and dailed in a frequncy "Yo....this is the revrend anyone out there on this channel i got a hot tip some old buddies of mine were hanging out here for an old job"

Billy grasped at the collar of his UCAS uniform. This had to be one of the most uncomfortable things he ever wore. It didn't help that he was in a compact van in the middle of a military base that could become hostile at a moments notice. Even one wrong answer, and he'd be dead. The tension was killing him. Though he had to admit, the uniform and id could be useful.

I've got to hold onto this thing, something tells me I'm going to need it one day.

At that moment, he buzzer went off. It was his mentor.

"We're in position," it read, "just give us the signal when you're ready,"

Putting down the buzzer, Billy spoke, trying to keep his voice low, "The distraction is in place, tell me when,"

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