The soft glow of the trideo accents the hard features of Joaquin's
face as he watches a documentary on the history of the metahuman
rights movement. As he takes a drink from his Aztec Gold soybeer,
shape shimmers into existence in the chair next to his. It takes
the form of an ancient Aztec Jaguar Warrior with a bloodstained
maquahuitl across his lap.
Joaquin doesn't respond to the appearance except to calmly
say, "Hello Q."
In a deep, commanding, masculine voice, the ancient warrior
answers, "Good evening, Joaquin. I can smell fresh blood
on your hands. Have you slain many enemies on the field of battle
Joaquin smirks slightly, "Yeah, you could say that, but
not all that many. Only three."
"That sounds worthy of a tale. Tell me of your hunt in
the steel jungle. I sense that you were not alone this time
and I am eager to hear of your new comrades-in-arms."
"Slow down Q, no one said they was my comrades."
"Were my comrades, not was."
"Yes, Joaquin, not yeah. I am not some gutter
trash, if you can't speak to me like a man, I'll return when
you can." The form of the Jaguar Warrior starts to fade.
Joaquin rolls his eyes and sighs. "All right, Q, keep
your shirt on."
The form fills in again and continues, "Apology accepted,
now tell me your tale."
"OK. I already told you about my search for a job in Shadowrunning,
"Yes, the street warriors for hire."
"Right. Well, I finally got a call."
"Of course you did, your spirit is strong, the lords of
the streets will see this and want you to stand with their banner."
"Sure Q. So I go to this hospital to meet the contact.
There's a little bit of cloak and dagger action, but eventually,
I meet up with the guy and five other folks."
"Other warriors for hire?"
"Si, more or less."
"One language at a time, please."
"All right, all right. Do you want to hear this or not?"
"Forgive me, continue."
"So it's a simple contract. An Ork research scientist
has stolen a prototype from his company and this man, Trushang,
wants to pay us to get it back."
"Punishing a traitor, honorable work."
"Sure, but the prototype is what they care about, not
the man, the traitor. His name is Sam Davis, by the way. Anyway,
the guy offers us 15 k apiece and we all agree to do the job."
"That is a reasonable amount of money?"
"Sure, I've risked my life for less. Anyway, about the
others. There's this fragile little woman named Mia, a mouse
shaman; a scrawny uptight suit sniper, named Hairs; a big bad
ass Troll mercenary, named Ugh; a weird ex-company man, named
Ice; and a straight up combat Mage, named Pyre. They all look
like fresh meat for the streets, but they say they got what
it takes. I figured if things went down twisted, I would just
stick with the Troll and kill people until things cleared up.
So I wasn't too worried about myself."
"That's what I thought too. So we all split up to do some
reconnaissance and hashed out a plan. Trushang had told us that
Sam was holed up in a safehouse run by the Devil Dogs gang.
Apparently, Sam's cousin is a lieutenant there. Another wrinkle
is that Sam's puta, Coral, is a razorgirl working for his old
"You know, a person with a pile of wetware packed into
their bodies to make them fast and tough. What do you call them
again? Oh yeah, a black heart."
"Ah, yes, the ones with only a toehold in the world of
"Exactly, a black heart. So we learn that the safehouse
he's in sits smack in the middle of the Devil Dogs' territory,
and that they have these magical dogs that breath fire, Hell..."
"Hounds. Yes, I know of these creatures. They came across
the waters with the Europeans. Simple beasts really, but effective
at raising an alarm against Astral threats."
"Right, that's what Mia and Pyre said too. But they also
said that a bullet will take them out and that's what I really
care about. I did a walk through and they only had an occasional
patrol with the typical half-assed attitude most gangers have."
"It does not sound very challenging."
"Maybe not, but we had to go into the heart of their territory,
retrieve this prototype, no doubt killing some people and raising
an alarm in the process, and then get out again."
"Now that sounds challenging, if not foolish."
"I thought so too. So when Ugh, the Troll mercenary, asks
if we want to hook up with his Rigger friend, I said, Hell yes."
"The black riders? They're like black hearts, but their
gear is for a vehicle...a mechanical chariot."
"Ah yes, the black riders. I don't remember you working
with one of them before."
"No, this was a first. I had heard some amazing stuff
about them so I thought it would be a good time to try it out.
I didn't see the six of us slipping out easily, especially since
the other five looked about as street savvy as a rookie narc.
Forget it. Anyway, so we agree to have Ugh's buddy fly us out
after we get the item in his helicopter, a large flying chariot
with powerful guns."
"That sounds mighty. You should purchase one of those."
"Yeah sure Q, then I could spend the next five minutes
of my life crashing it into the ground. Not only am I not a
black rider, I'm not that good of a passenger. Loco usually
stays on the ground."
"This seems like a sound policy."
"So Mia and Pyre scouted Astrally and got the lay of the
building. We had a plan. I slip in the front, open the side
door of the building, let everyone else in, we head up, get
the prototype, get to the roof, and fly out in the helicopter."
"It seems your plan put you at the greatest risk. I am
pleased with your bravery, but be wary of putting too much at
stake for strangers such as these."
"Don't worry Q, I had it under control. So this Hairs
guy, the suit sniper with the news anchor hair, wants to hide
on the roof of a nearby building and back us up. I'm like, yeah
right, unless you can see and shoot through buildings, you can
back us up for real, at arm's length, homeboy."
"He sounds cowardly."
"Nah, go easy Q. It's just his thing. Think of him as
an archer, a really damn skilled archer. You wouldn't charge
the heavy infantry with him, now would you?"
"Of course not, that's foolish. I understand. Continue."
"Right, so I slip in the front door and get the side door
open, no problem. Remember how I said they weren't exactly street
warriors? Well, the guards notice something's up as they cross
the street to enter the side door. So I prop it open and fade.
As Ugh is opening the door and pushing away some junk in front
of it. Two gangers show up. I step out behind them and switch
them off. Piff, piff. Ugh is downrange and gets some blood and
bits of brain on his jacket, but ti doesn't phase him."
"Good, at least one has seen battle."
"Exactly, things are looking up. So the team gets in,
Ugh stashes the bodies, and we move upstairs. We get to the
room and Ugh breaks down the door and rolls in. Coral, Sam's
black heart puta, doesn't miss a beat and starts plugging Ugh
with bullets. He shrugs them off like it's no big thing and
him and I open up on her. She takes some shots and backs into
the bathroom. Pyre stuns Sam with some spell, then Coral rolls
out screaming and shooting. I duck the shots, Pyre tries to
drop her with a spell but fails, and Ugh sucks up the shots
then blows her away."
"Pyre has courage and this Ugh seems mighty indeed."
"You can say that again. So Ugh and I have a few words
with Sam and he tells us where the prototype is hidden. Pyre
snags it as some gangers come up to meet us. Hairs takes them
out while Pyre and I get the package open. It's the prototype
or at least something that looks a lot like it. So Ugh knocks
out Sam and takes him with us just to be safe. We head upstairs
to the roof using the side stairs we came up. We know that we
will have to cross over to the middle stairs eventually, but
for now, we want to stay off the main stairs."
"That seems wise."
"We hit the eighth floor and some guy on the ninth floor
opens up on us. Hairs and I take off across the eighth floor
while Ice, Mia, and Pyre deal with the guy. Hairs and I run
into two gangers running up the stairs. He takes down the one
in the open, but the other guy's ass is saved by steel railings
as my bullets ricochet of metal. He decides that the guy that
smoked his buddy is more of a threat and shoots at Hairs. Ouch,
it was solid and Hairs is kind of fragile, for a man. He didn't
take the hit well at all. I suppose sitting on roof tops shooting
people that can't see you doesn't make a man very tough. Whatever,
maybe he just needs to get shot a few more times and he'll get
used to it."
"The blade needs fire and hammer to temper it."
"Yeah, right. At least he was doing his share of the killing,
instead of squatting on a roof listening to the action. So the
rest of the team takes out the guy on the ninth floor and we
rendezvous on the roof. That helicopter showed up right on cue.
We jumped in and took off, and I mean TOOK OFF. I almost would
have been as safe just jumping off the damn building. But that
guy sure could fly. It was crazy the shit he could do with that
"Is that the end of your tale?"
"Sort of. Mia fixed up Hairs, we handed off the gadget,
got paid, and let Sam go. Trushang seemed happy with our performance,
so I think I may finally be on the road to getting some serious
"Congratulations are in order then. You finally have a
duty worthy of your abilities. So, what is your box speaking
"The metahuman rights movement."
"Ah yes, the Nubian riots."
"Wrong millennia, Q."