|Runner, part 1 (AU, Romance, Angst)
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|Author:||Sihaya [ Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:08 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Runner, part 1 (AU, Romance, Angst)|
This is my fiction entry for the 2011 Pandect Olympics. It's an AU set in the Shadowrun universe. I hope no one minds a little distopian science fiction (my favourite ) !
Just a little note before we begin: a 'Face' is the leader of a group, the face everyone remembers when they think of a particular team of runners. Usually it's the person with the best social skills, or the one who is most intimidating
“I’m not going to be able to catch that flight, darling. I know, I’m sorry. I’ll do my best but I really don’t think I’ll be able to make it. I miss you too. What’d you do today? I wish I could have gone along... Me too, baby...”
Noah grit his teeth. Next to him Teddy was roaring with soundless laughter.
“Must he do this every time?” Noah lamented.
“They are in love” Teddy said pathetically into his earpiece, batting his eyelashes.
Noah stared and blinked before he shoved his hand into the enforcer’s face and ended his antics.
“Kouros, Cherokee, ETA please,” he growled.
Instantly the rigger’s icon appeared at the top right corner of their AR glasses.
“I’m two blocks away from you guys, Face. Cherokee is doing something in the back, Gaia knows what. I don’t dare ask him lest he goes off on a hour long techgeek-rant and then we’ll never get there.”
Noah grunted his approval and tried to ignore the mage, who was still completely wrapped up in his vid call to his ‘wife’.
“How’s the road, sexy?” Teddy rumbled.
Noah let his head fall back in exasperation. He made the hand signals for ‘not you too’ but his right hand man gave him a sly grin and continued to flirt over the commlink.
“I wouldn’t know, I’m not actually there,” Kouros said, exasperated. “Would you please stop it?”
“Stop what?” Teddy asked innocently. Kouros’ icon changed colours, the cheetah cub that acted as his representative trying to look as menacingly as it could. It was very cute.
“Why don’t you come down here with us next time, gorgeous?” Teddy asked, as he’d asked a dozen times before, every time they employed the young rigger.
“Meatspace is for eggheads,” Kouros replied without missing a beat.
“Meatspace is where you can find sensations cyberspace can’t offer you, Kouros,” Teddy said softly. “No matter how many simstim vids you watch, how much ‘better than life’ your BTL sim is, how good your deck is. Your body can teach you things your mind can never learn on its own. Or in a borrowed body.”
Noah looked at him quietly. Teddy seemed to become more serious about Kouros every single day, and he’d never even really met him, not in the way that mattered to Teddy - and to himself, for that matter. Perhaps it was because his being an adept made him so in tune with the natural and magical energies of the world - ‘meatspace’ as Kouros always called it - but personally he felt that cyberspace was for the real eggheads.
The van came speeding around the corner, way too fast but incredibly accurate - the way only a master rigger could drive it. Teddy was amazed Cherokee could work, let alone survive a trip in the back of that thing.
“Your timing is flawless, as usual,” Noah said.
“Thanks, Face. Call me when you need me again,” Kouros said, and his icon vanished.
Teddy looked a little forlorn and Noah slapped him on the shoulder.
“You up for it?” he signaled. Teddy nodded.
“When we get back up there...” he signaled, lifting his eyes to indicate the Zurich Orbital Space Station, “I’m going to go find him and drag him outside. Venus will probably know where he lives.”
Noah grinned. “I’m sure,” he said out loud. Teddy grinned back.
“Heads in the game, now. Abel, time to turn off the damn phone. Cherokee, what have we got?”
“The old building is rigged to blow,” the weapon’s specialist said, bouncing with excitement, “and I’ve prepared the charges you’re taking into the offices with you.”
A glowing AR-map reminded them of the locations to put them. The rest was easy: get the files, blow the charges, let themselves be evacuated along with the thousands of employees in the megacorp’s downtown office building and escape notice by blowing up a building a few blocks away.
It was a simple plan, and certainly not very original, but it was surefire and they were a very smooth bunch.
“I hate this suit,” Teddy said, trying to make sure no one would notice the cyberware that made up about three thirds of his body.
“Kouros spoofed all of the sensors. No one will pay you any mind,” Noah assured him.
“That’s not what I meant,” Teddy said. “Can’t possibly smuggle my rifles in.”
Noah rolled his eyes. “If you feel any need to break out the Ares Alpha, we’ve already botched the run.”
Teddy made a face. “I just feel so naked!”
“I don’t know how you bear it,” Cherokee said, slapping him on the shoulder. He was never without any less than 6 guns on his person, himself.
“Mr Johnson is not paying us to chat,” Noah sighed. “Time to get going.”
The sun slowly rose over Essen, shining down weakly on all of the worker bees on their way from the company dorm to their office buildings, thousands upon thousands of them, who knew nothing but the life their extraterritorial megacorporations offered them. No freedom, no real choice, little comfort - but these people all felt they were lucky in life. As the shadowrunners mingled in with them, filing in to the building with flawless fake SINs and company pass codes, they all felt the same way; that this was a pathetic life. No matter the high cost and high risk of being a runner, no matter all of the consequences, it was a million times better than being one of the cattle.
Noah was the first one in. His job was to smooth over the entrance for the others and to plant the charges. Teddy and Abel would get what they’d come for. Cherokee would stand by to wreak havoc with any one of the dozens of weapons in the back of the van, from SMG’s to anti-tank missiles - and to count down the endless seconds until he finally got to blow something up.
When he reached the reception desk, he turned his powers ‘all the way up to eleven’, as Teddy sometimes said. Gaia knew where in the Matrix he’d discovered that ancient expression. Everyone on the floor became instantly affected, feeling that everything was exceptionally fine today, simply because of that man standing there in the middle of the hall. They became just that little extra contented, felt that little more secure - and just that little more submissive. The moment the fire alarm went off, there would be a panic, the quiet serenity of their world abruptly shattered. The poor girl behind the counter got the full blast of it.
“Please, what can I do for you?” she panted, practically begging him to talk to her. If he’d asked to shag her on her desk right now, she’d have complied without a second’s thought.
“You’re doing exceptionally well,” Noah whispered in her ear. She started to tremble with joy. “When I come back in a few minutes, I need to you to be a doll and do something for me, OK?”
“Anything, sir,” she swore.
As he made his way to the elevator, the people he passed all looked at him with an admiration akin to zealotry. He couldn’t help a sigh of relief when the doors closed and he rode up alone.
“I hate doing this,” he muttered into the comm.
“We walked in without a hitch - security is so happy they didn’t even really check our SIN. We’re going straight to the mark,” Teddy replied. Faintly Noah heard them jostling up the stairs.
“Keep me posted,” Noah said. He set to placing the charges, going from floor to floor and charming everyone he encountered.
“I’m not going to be able to keep this up much longer,” he muttered.
“I’m done,” Abel said. “Only had to flash my credentials once.”
“I’m moving to the last one now,” Teddy said. “Ran into a gung ho security guard.”
“I sure hope he’s still conscious,” Noah said dryly.
“I managed to control myself,” Teddy said, a grin in his voice.
A new voice tuned into their channel.
“Hello, boys. How are things on your end?”
“Hey, Venus!” Teddy and Abel replied.
“Easy breathing so far,” Noah said. “How are you today? Is Theo doing well?”
“Same as always,” she replied softly. “Thank you for asking. All of my programs are running, damage control is in place. I’ve already erased a few of Kouros’ speeding tickets. Whenever you are ready.”
Venus was a cleanup specialist, the very best on the planet. That’s why Zurich Orbital had her in exclusive employ. In exchange they provided top of the bill medical care for her brother, who had been hit in the 2064 Crash and was now a so-called ‘ghost in the machine’, a person whose mind had become trapped in the Matrix because he hadn’t been able to log out fast enough when the whole thing came down. Without her, Noah and his team would not be half as good as they were. Whatever they did, she made sure it hadn’t happened, and that they didn’t exist - to anyone except ZO, of course.
“You’re wonderful,” Teddy said fondly. “I’ve just acquired the last file. Let’s go home.”
“I’m already back in the hall.”
“Blowing charge 1 now,” Noah said. Everyone held their breath until the explosion came and they heard Cherokee crow his triumph over the comm.
“Alright, people, let security do their job,” Noah said with a wicked smile.
“Seems like there’s no chatter just yet,” Venus said. “Building security is not communicating with external police forces either.”
“Saeder-Krupp were always too cocky,” Abel supplied. “I guess having a dragon as your CEO does that.”
“Someone is going to get eaten for this,” Noah grinned.
“Hopefully not us,” Teddy said, keeping in mind the cardinal rule for every shadowrunner: watch your back, shoot straight, conserve ammo, and never, ever, cut a deal with a dragon. Or piss one off.
“The one definite benefit of working for Zurich Orbital,” Venus said. “Not even Lofwyr goes against the Corporations Council.”
“He still gives me the shakes,” Teddy muttered.
“Let’s just say I’m very happy to actually be at the space station,” Venus said sweetly. “Chatter has started. None of it is making it through.”
Noah set off the fourth charge at that point. Security was starting to get real skittish. The people in the hall had gone from happy and content to nervous as rats near rising water.
“Hello, darling,” he whispered to the girl at the reception. She looked like she might weep with relief that he was finally back. “You need to get evacuations going. I know the head of security told you not to, but I’m asking you to please go ahead, ok? It would make me really happy if you called the police so that they can work with security and evacuate everyone, can you do that for me, sugar?”
She nodded in ecstasy and started making vid calls. The guards who had been influenced by Noah immediately set to work, hindering the ones investigating the explosions and trying to keep everyone inside. It was utter chaos and people started to panic - real, raw panic, enhanced by the adept’s magic. In a few minutes people might start to trample each other in their haste to get out. Noah set of the next three charges all at once. Immediately things got violent.
“I’m out. Making my way to the van now,” Abel said.
“I’m being herded down the fire escape. On the fourth floor,” Teddy reported.
Noah set off the last charge, grabbed the reception girl and made his way to the exit with her.
“Lots of confused bloggers and posters right now,” Venus said. “All wondering why their posts are vanishing. The police are almost there, I’m scrambling some of their more accurate reports.”
“The guards are trying to keep people from leaving,” Noah said, clutching the terrified girl. “I’m going to have to do something conspicuous to get us out.”
“How conspicuous?” Abel said.
“Conspicuous enough for us to get noticed when we make our escape, possibly.”
“Don’t worry,” Cherokee said cheerfully. “I brought the Thunderstruck Gauss Rifle.”
Teddy swore rather colourfully. Noah heard Venus snort in the background.
“He brought the Thunderstruck! I don’t get to bring anything and he gets to play around with the big Edgaring gun!” the Enforcer lamented. “By the way, looks like I’m not going to be able to make it to the van without punching any lights out, they want me to head back to the company dorm with the rest of this group.”
“Security just shot someone in the front. I’m making my move now. Do what you have to do,” Noah said.
Noah let go of the girl and took a deep breath. Grasping at his power he bent the effect he had on the people in the hall to the exact opposite of what it was now: instead of confidence and affection he now inspired utter fear.
The people on the floor split like the red sea, screaming and scrambling away without any regard for the people around them. The poor reception girl instantly fainted.
Noah sprinted forward, slamming his palm into the chest of one of the guards and sending him flying, and made it outside before anyone really understood what was happening. Everyone he ran past got whipped up in the panicked frenzy he caused, but they got out of his way and right now that was all that mattered.
“I’m right behind you,” Teddy called, “What the hell are you doing to these people?”
“At least I’m not making their heads explode,” Noah yelled.
“Cheap jab,” Abel said dryly. Venus snorted again.
“Venus, get Kouros on the line,” Noah said.
“I already called him,” she said.
Noah dove into the passenger’s seat next to Abel while Teddy slammed the door to the driver’s seat.
“Go,” Venus said calmly, and immediately the car took off.
“This is weird,” Teddy said, scrambling to keep his hands and feet away from the wheel, paddles and stick. “Oddly intimate. It’s like I’ve got you in my lap, Kouros.”
The Rigger’s icon appeared, hissing at him in an angry red.
“Whereto?” he asked.
“Exit point 3,” Noah decided.
“ETA 7 minutes, Face.”
“S-K in pursuit with 5 vehicles, the police have arrived on scene. No trouble keeping a blanket on the thing.”
“Cherokee, blow the building.”
Cheering, Cherokee activated the charge.
“The police are taking the bait. S-K still on your tail. As far as I can tell they haven’t discovered the actual theft yet, so they might simply give up if you get far enough,” Venus reported.
“Face,” Kouros said, swerving into a turn at the very last nanosecond.
“Yeah?” Noah replied as soon as he managed to extract his own limbs from Teddy’s and Abel’s.
“I have a better route available.”
“Take it!” Noah said, holding on for dear life.
“I’m picking up chatter from S-K sec, people are still frantic. 12 deaths so far, 5 of which were guards.”
“Damnit,” Abel said. “They’re not going to just let us go now.”
“Can’t shake them. Estimated interception in 2 minutes,” Kouros said. His voice had that detached quality it always got when he was deep inside his rig and enjoying every second of it. “If you can delay them for 30 seconds when they hit us, I can get you guys out without another hitch.”
“I love it when you get cocksure,” Teddy said. The tiny cheetah ignored him. Kouros was not available for banter.
“Abel, Cherokee, get to work,” Noah ordered.
“I’m ready,” Cherokee said immediately. They heard him clatter about in the back of the van, muttering about which guns to use.
“One hit with that Thunderstruck and I won’t have to do a thing,” Abel said.
“Three helicopters bearing down on your position,” Venus said.
“Aha! Target practice,” Abel grinned, and pried the roof hatch open.
“I hate this run,” Teddy grumbled.
“Last time, you got all the fun,” Abel replied pointedly.
“You get to have fun when you get home,” Teddy said. “I get to make eyes at a matrix icon.”
“T-20,” Venus said. Abel put his knees on Noah and Teddy’s shoulders and they steadied him.
“I see them!” he jelled over the wind whipping up his hair. “They really sent the big guns!”
At the same time, Cherokee kicked open the back doors and aimed the Gauss rifle at the first armoured car burning through its tires to keep up with them.
Abel begun his incantation. It took him only the time between one breath and the next to call upon the power of ancient beings and one of the helicopters was struck by a stray bolt of lightning. It went up in flames and crashed on one of the cars in pursuit.
“Hey!” Cherokee cried, “That was mine!”
Noah felt like planting his face into the dashboard a few times.
Cherokee fired the Gauss rifle and took out the second car, hooting as he did.
“I think he honestly forgets there’s people in that thing,” Teddy said.
“Maybe that’s for the best,” Noah grunted, trying to keep Abel steady.
The Mage pulled down more lightning from the sky and the second helicopter exploded in mid air. By some miracle the third one managed to dodge both the bolt and the debris.
“Show-off,” Abel grumbled, and fired a mana bolt.
Barely a second later he saw the satisfying splash of blood against the wind shield. Immediately the helicopter started to lose altitude - a headless pilot would do that to a machine. It hit the ground right in front of another one of the cars and its driver swerved at the last moment, only to crash into a building.
“Abel!” Cherokee whined. Only one car left now. The driver hit the breaks and broke pursuit, trying to get away before Cherokee would take him out too.
“This is not your lucky day...” Cherokee muttered, aimed carefully and squeezed the trigger.
“Kouros!” Noah shouted over the ensuing wreckage.
“On it,” the rigger replied.
“No other pursuers,” Venus reported. “S-K is in lockdown, the police are very confused.” The mirth in her voice made it clear that more than a little of that confusion was due to her antics.
“Take them out of lockdown,” Noah said. “We don’t want them to go poke around their offices just yet.”
“Will do,” Venus said. “Lockdown reversed. People are breaking out.”
“I can’t imagine we ever did this without an eraser,” Abel said, clambering back inside and getting his elbow in Teddy’s face in the process.
“You’re welcome. Don’t call me an eraser,” Venus said. “Kouros, must you drive past every speeding camera in the city?”
The cheetah icon purred.
“Everyone shut up for 30 seconds,” Abel said, trying to gain the focus to erase his astral signature from the crash site, and Noah’s from the Saeder-Krupp building.
Exactly 30 seconds later Venus chimed in again. “No one’s discovered the theft yet. Pursuit has been called off - they have no idea where you are anymore - and S-K is working hard to keep their own people under control and to bribe the police to get out.”
“Make sure that leaves an easy trail. Never know who we can annoy that way,” Noah grinned.
“I’ve booked you a flight back up, check-in in half an hour. That should be plenty of time to put the weapons back in their boxes and clean yourselves up.”
“Why the rush?” Teddy frowned. “I was planning on visiting old friends and coming back in a few days.”
“I suspect you’ll get the chance for that soon enough. From what I’ve gathered...”
“Been snooping again, have we?” Abel said lovingly.
“...they already have your next job lined up. So no loitering, chances are high you’ll be back on solid ground within 36 hours.”
“Mendoksei,” Abel swore. “I promised Ayubu I’d come along to visit his family.”
“You’d think you’d be happy to not have to go and visit the in-laws,” Teddy said dryly.
“It makes him happy when I go along. And when he’s happy, he makes me happy,” Abel grinned.
“No wonder you’re so whipped,” Cherokee said, laughing out loud in the back of the van.
Kouros took a particularly close turn again and they got mushed together.
“He is doing it on purpose,” Teddy groaned.
“How does Cherokee stand it?” Abel moaned.
Kouros drove onto the fast lane to the airport. “5 More minutes, everyone. Don’t forget to take the transmitter,” he said.
“Don’t worry, Teddy said. “I’ll make sure you get it back safely.”
Kouros’ icon poofed up it’s fur.
Teddy continued to tease him a little more while Abel fiddled with his commlink. “Hey, baby, I’m going to make it home on time after all! Yeah, me too... How about I take you to dinner? You know I love to take you out... Where do you want to go? No, I’ll leave it completely up to you. Me too, baby...”
This next one better be good, Noah groaned, and hoped Venus had booked him a seat away from the others.
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