Wild Child's Funeral (16JAN2058)
Hound, Piker, Ajax, and Val huddle in the freezing rain
as a simple casket is lowered into a simple grave, containing
Wild Child's remains. Very few others know of the ex-ganger's
demise. The team knew next to nothing about him. The group
is somber and quiet, lost in thoughts of their own mortality.
Angus Invites Piker to Join Kamibudo Clan (30JAN2058)
Piker has stopped by the Gargoyle's Roost early in the
day before the other regulars have come in. The bar is not
open this early, but the manager always lets Angus and her
come in early like this whenever they like. Angus is eating
lunch and drinking a tall glass of orange juice. Contrary
to his public persona, he does not generally drink a lot
outside of bar hours. Piker actually tends to drink a little
more than he does and he has made that point before. Angus
drops his usual happy-go-lucky boozer facade and Piker knows
something serious is about to happen. Maybe it's the "You
should drink less" talk, she thinks to herself.
Angus does not look up from his food as he talks and his
words are slightly muffled by chewing as he talks, "Scrapper,
I've got something serious to discuss with you." He
pauses to take a drink and Piker sits there stiff and silent,
He takes another bite of what looks like shepherd's pie
and continues, "You've come a long way from the punk
kid you used to be. Yuir growin' up into quite a dangerous
punk adult." He stops and smiles wryly. Piker smiles
slightly and relaxes a little bit. No interventions today.
"You've learned to harness yuir gifts and use them
effectively, and you've started down a road in your life
that will test you thoroughly. You have almost been killed
and you have killed to survive. It's time I was honest with
you lass." Piker get a strange feeling in the pit of
her stomach as if knowing what he is about to say.
He sighs and says, "I am not who I pretend to be."
He waits for a moment to let that sink in but continues
before Piker interrupts, "I was part of an elite special
forces team in the UCAS military. The details are immaterial
now, though at one time they meant a lot to me. I was transferred
to a black ops unit in the UCAS government and became an
assassin. A rogue cell leader tried to have me off an innocent
target to help him get in bed with a megacorp but I caught
wind of it in the nick of time. She lived and I became a
hunted man. I eventually took him out, along with his cell.
I was the assassin after all, and they were just the support
crew. After that, the division pleaded ignorance and asked
me to stay in, everything forgiven, and all that shite."
Piker notices the edge of his accent has faded.
"I told thank you very much but no. I came to Seattle
and became a shadowrunner myself. I went on a lot of runs
with all manner of people, detectives, crazy gangers, dysfunctional
shamans, deadly serious combat mages, and a whole host of
others. I have killed so many people with these hands that
I lost count long ago." He holds up his hands and stares
"Anyway, the violence of the job was consuming me.
Then I found a group of folks who had the same gifts and
they wanted to help guide me on my path before I came a
blood-soaked burnout. It worked. They taught me to live
with the violence and how to forge my body into a weapon
without succumbing to blood rage. They taught me how to
expand my abilities. I would be dead right now if it wasn't
for them. I left the group a while ago and moved on, they
are only a stepping stone for the likes of us, the keepers
of the gates to higher mysteries." He shrugs and his
accent returns as he says, "Wull, thair ya have it
lass, do ya want to go learn how to be even more of a badass
and have some like-minded folks that will back you up in
a pinch or not?" He goes back to eating as he waits
for a reply.
Piker thinks for a moment, shrugs, and then says, "Sure."
Ajax Is Contacted by the Order of the Steel Lodge (06FEB2058)
06FEB2058 (W): Another unchallenging day of political maneuvering
and self-promotion at Global Technologies draws to a close
and you check your e-mail one last time before heading out.
A strange little message simply reads,
"Clockwerx, 7 PM, blue eyes, red dress, blond
You don't know what it is but it sounds good so far. Maybe
that's just what you need to get your mind off the monotony
of work. Maybe it's finally another shadowrun. The money
in the bank is holding up fine, but the excitement level
leaves a lot to be desired.
You head home, workout a little, freshen up, and throw
on some casual, but not too casual, clothes. Clockwerx is
a strange little place where being overdressed is worse
than being dressed like a squatter.
Ajax arrives at Clockwerx. Slow, trip hop music undulates
through speakers and dancers respond in kind with their
bodies on the large round dance floor after which the club
is named. The floor is actually a clear polymer disc which
covers a huge, 15 meter diameter mechanical clock. Two outer
rings make up the rest of the club which serves a decent
array of light foods and exotic caffeinated and alcoholic
drinks. The inner ring revolves around the dance floor once
an hour and the outer ring revolves one every twelve hours.
It is a strangely subtle effect, but the walls of the club
are display cases for art and plants, so at least the scenery
In the dim light, Ajax makes out a woman in a red dress
with blonde hair. She looks quite well built and when she
turns around and stares into him with her blue eyes, he
sees why; she is an Ork. It's not easy to tell at first,
but he knows it somehow. The muscle mass and unusually tall
and voluptuous form are beyond human or elven women. She
has to go on record as the most attractive Ork woman he
has met. Of course, he has not met many that were not housekeepers
during the graveyard shift at his company.
She smiles, keenly aware of his Ajax's surprise and seeming
to relish it, she waits a moment then speaks, "Ajax
I presume?" Ajax didn't know what to expect, perhaps
a husky, deep voice, reminiscent of a brain-damaged drag
queen; whatever it was, it wasn't the smooth singsong voice
she possessed. This was a strange encounter indeed.
She sits down and gestures for Ajax to do the same. He
is almost disappointed when he spots another man sitting
at the table that seems to know her. He is an unimpressive
man, but he is well groomed and his eyes seem to see everything.
Normally, Ajax might have dismissed him as another run-of-the-mill
She gestures to herself and then the man in kind, "I
am Lisa and this is James." The man nods slightly to
Ajax. "I'll get to the point quick, because these clothes
are killing me, they don't fit my motif. Tawni is a friend
of our and we were talking with her about a new recruit
for our chantry, you know a magical group. We pool our resources
and knowledge and try to figure out more about the Awakened
world than we already know. Our members have the money to
do what they want and we use that to stay independent of
the corps, who would love to have us on their puppet strings.
We also have some shadier dealings and we recently lost
a member that got geeked doing said shady dealings. He was
a good guy, but sometimes things just don't work out. And
yes, we were upset, but we are finished mourning and its
time to get back into the swing of things." James simply
continues to watch Ajax throughout the exchange.
Lisa continues, "We're basically a group of shamans
helping each other learn more about magic. In this world,
we can't be too public, so that's about all I can tell you
at this stage. So, anyway, if you're interested, call this
number and let us know." She hands Ajax a card that
is blank except for a local LTG number and they both stand
07FEB2058 (R): Ajax stops by Viva Serge and picks
up the daily special, a complex blend of coffee and other
chemicals, some legal, some not so legal, but all very chic,
and that's what matters at Viva Serge. He sits down
at a table, and calls the number. The line rings three times
before the click of connection is heard.
Ajax decides no to provide a video feed, but the person
on the other end seems to have no such qualms. "Hello
sir, we are glad that you decided to contact us. I will
arrange your appointment, is tomorrow good for you?"
Ajax slowly processes the words in his mind, distracted
by the woman's face on his vid phone. The image catches
her from mid torso up. She has the unusual combination of
being nubile and buxom at the same time. She is probably
nineteen and for a man like Ajax, that and her appearance
are all the inspiration he needs to be more interested in
talking to her, regardless of the subject. Ajax resists
the urge to shoot down Friday, as he might reflexively to
keep control of the situation. Instead he decides to be
a nice guy. It's not a hard decision with such an attractive
young woman on the other line.
Ajax smiles and says, "As long as I get to see you,
that will be fine." She smiles and looks away as her
face flushes visibly.
Talking through a smile, she says, "OK then, Casanova,
will 2:00 PM work? The meeting will probably last an hour.
The address is coming through now."
Ajax, "Sure, I'll see you then, and maybe we can see
if you can fit me into your. . . schedule."
The woman smiles and shakes her head as she says, "Good
bye sir." Ajax smiles and stores the address she sent.
It appears to be an address in the heart of downtown.
Thursday evening and Friday pass intolerably slow.
Ajax Joins the Order of the Steel Lodge (08FEB2058)
08FEB2058: The challenges of the day seem pale to the prospect
of some grand test of magic or other fantasies Ajax dreams
up. During lunch, he even cracks open an old text book on
magic as if skimming the book would grant an instant expertise.
He heads back home at 1:00 PM and gets cleaned up and changes.
At 1:55 PM he arrives at the building, a towering spire
of glass and steel in the heart of Downtown, with a certain
hint of gothic in the architecture. The airbus flies up
to the roof of the building and sets down gently. Ajax and
some other passengers debark. The reception directs him
upstairs. The only thing higher than the platform is the
penthouse. Ajax decides he likes things so far. The Gargoyle
in him likes their choice of location.
The entrance to the penthouse is a small waiting area,
not unlike a standard set of offices and in fact on the
glass is stenciled Sixth World Services. The lovely
receptionist from the phone call is sitting behind the desk
and Ajax immediately begins to work his charms on her but
he is interrupted. Lisa, the Ork woman from Clockwerx leans
out of a door and calls him back to her office.
The office is elegant and nicely furnished. Everything
is high quality but not gaudy or excessive. "Have a
seat," she says, gesturing to a chair as she sits down
behind a large desk. Ajax slides off his jacket and lays
it gently and casually over another nearby chair and sits
Lisa smiles a business smile and speaks, "OK, are
you interested in joining?"
Ajax smiles and quietly says, "Yes."
Lisa replies, "Good. I hate mincing words. Here's
the scream sheet rundown for you. I represent a magical
group. We would like to have you as a member. Before I tell
you anymore, I have to ask that you agree that if you do
not want to join this group you will drink this." She
holds up a small ampule. "It's the same stuff that
the Tir Tairngire Border Police use to erase a few hours
of memory of people that they find in places they shouldn't
be. It's harmless aside from that, and I promise that we
will get you back home safely."
Fear and doubt wells up in Ajax, but something inside calms
him and he knows that what Lisa says is true. It's not a
spell, it's . . . Gargoyle? Ajax nods silently, unsure if
he is willing his body to do it or something else.
Lisa, "Great, this is going well. This is usually
where I get into an annoying debate over mutual trust. I
like you already." She smiles and seems genuinely relieved.
"OK, so welcome to Sixth World Services, the front
for the global headquarters of the Order of the Steel Lodge.
Our group is the Seattle Circle. There are other circles
in major metroplexes around the world. The organization
is thirty years old and it started right her in Seattle,
on the roof of this building, about thirty meters that way."
She points to what would be the north edge of the building.
"We don't have a lot of rules, but they are all important.
Anyone breaks them and we all have to slog back here and
form our magical link again, and that is fraggin' annoying.
I have much better things to do with my free time than pull
an all nighter in here chanting and eating pizza."
"Anyway, the rules. First, we have regular meetings,
once a month. Be there or be in drek. You can miss one or
two, but don't miss two in a row. Second, we help each other
out. If you need your hoop pulled out of the fire, you can
call on us and vice versa. Don't abuse this or you'll be
looking for another group. Third, we are generally only
interested in brining in Shamans and Adepts with Urban Totems,
and Mages. So far, the only Totem represented is Gargoyle,
but everyone's happy with that. Gator tends to be too fraggin'
lazy, Cat is too catty, and Rat is too smelly and self-absorbed."
"As our fearless leader might say, we are a team of
individuals. To normal people, that means we do our own
thing, but we also pull our weight around here. From what
we know of you, that won't be a problem. And yes, we do
know quite a bit about you, including the time in prison,
your buddy Bagger, and your fondness for women. I'd ask
you out, but you probably wouldn't survive the encounter."
She laughs a little louder than a corporate suit might and
Ajax is reminded of Piker. He thinks to himself that it
would be interesting to see how Lisa fared against Piker
. . .
"Pay attention Ajax, I gotta rattle all of this drek
off and you gotta listen. Fourth, we maintain our secrecy,
like most groups. We realize that running a business, being
magical, etc. does not require a a Dragon's resources to
put two and two together. However, the less people know
the safer we are. So we don't blab about the group to other
folks. Whether or not you tell someone your in a group doesn't
matter to me one way or another, I figure they expect it.
However, no blabbing about the name, location, etc. Finally,
we all have to give up a little blood to be stored as a
Ajax's eyebrows raise.
"Yes, it's a material link, get over it. Sure it can
be used to help us reign you in if you go freaky on us,
but more importantly, it allows us to track you down and
help you if something fraggin' bad happens and your meatbod
is trapped somewhere. Honestly it's a good thing and you
get used to the idea pretty quick. It's like mutual insurance."
Again, Ajax feels an otherworldly sense of assurance and
quietly listens as Lisa continues.
"Outstanding. This is going way better than I had
planned." She looks at her wristphone, "Hmm, it's
about time. Let's go meet the others." She stands up
and leads Ajax to a well-appointed conference room with
a fully stocked bar.
Lisa leads Ajax to one end of the table and beings making
She gestures to the man at the head of the table and says,
"Thomas Smythe is a Shaman of Gargoyle and our fearless
leader." The man nods politely. He appears to be in
his mid-forties and wears delicate, high quality spectacles
that seem to perfectly match his clothing. His medium length
brown hair is loosely combed back; combined with his brown
eyes, he has an earthy look to him. A bookmarked tome in
front of him that looks other than everyone in the room
She gestures to the man at his right and says, "James
Roland is a Shaman of Gargoyle and heads up Negotiations."
James is corporate from head to toe. He appears to be in
his thirties and wears an impeccably fashionable suit. His
black eyes match the jet black hair which he keeps in a
short, Caesar cut.
She gestures to the man on Thomas's left, "Phil Simms
is a Hermetic Mage and heads up Magical Security."
Phil wears casual business clothes and parts his sandy blonde
hair down the middle. His brown eyes are in the grips of
a warm and friendly smile when Ajax meets his gaze.
Lisa gestures to the woman next to James, but is interrupted
as the woman introduces herself. "I am Monica Lindo,
a Shaman of Gargoyle, and a skilled Negotiator." She
smiles wide and playfully and Ajax is immediately convinced
that he could be with her within five minutes of this meeting
ending. Her eyes are dark brown and she generally winks
whenever a man looks at her. Her hair is straight, black,
and cut in a bob fashion. Combined with her mannerisms and
slinky, formfitting dresses, she is something of a 2058
version of a Flapper, although a real Flapper's habits would
probably be too tame for her. Her light chocolate brown
complexion and features suggest a Central or South American
Lisa rolls her eyes and goes on to the next introduction.
"George Innis is a Hermetic Mage and works in Magical
Security. He is also our resident workaholic." Everyone
chuckles slightly at the comment, including George. He dresses
in very mainstream corporate clothing. His black hair and
blue eyes are remarkably average, as is his demeanor. His
slight pallor suggest a man that spends too much time indoors.
Lisa gestures to a beautiful elven woman sitting next to
Phil. "Lin Sun is a Gargoyle Shaman of the Shinto Path.
She is usually our primary liaison with our Japanese customers."
Ajax remembers the Shinto Path. They summons ancestors spirits
instead of Nature Spirits. Lin looks like a slim, nubile
version of a china doll. Her skin has a light complexion
which provides a striking contrast to her straight black
hair and piercing emerald green eyes. She is a picture of
female Asian beauty and is still unfathomably humble, which
may explain why the Ancestors like her so much.
Lisa gestures to the last person in the room. "Fred
'Grey Hawk' Chokota is a Shaman of Gargoyle and head up
our VIP Body Guarding services." Fred is an even six
feet tall. His long straight black hair is pulled into a
pony tail with a silver and turquoise beret. His black eyes
seem to see everything. He has a very lean muscular build
and a weathered complexion. He seems to have a gift for
looking grim and intimidating.
Lisa finishes, "Well, that's it for introductions.
Now let's see if you can join our magical link."
The windows turn opaque and the lights dim as Lisa and
Ajax sit down. Everyone silently joins hands and Thomas
speaks, "Ajax, just close your eyes and reach out.
It may take a while, but you should feel it and be able
to tap into it. Take your time. There is no pressure and
there is no guarantee it will work this first time."
Ajax closes his eyes and slips into a more meditative state.
He's no expert at it, but he has spent his fair share of
time thinking deep thoughts. He slips into Astral Perception
and sees a faint, tangible line connection all of the members
seated at the table. It seems to get bolder and clearer
as he focuses on it. Slowly, it takes form and appears to
be a small stream flowing in midair. Traces of color flow
through it, no doubt remnants of the various members influence.
Ajax is stunned by the simple beauty and is overwhelmed
for a moment with the uniqueness of the moment. He has never
been so full of joy at being Awakened. He snaps out of his
reverie and realizes that the streams is coursing through
him now. It is a strange sensation. He feels a deep kinship
with these strangers as if they are brothers and sisters
that he had forgotten about. Ajax notices that everyone
else is smiling. As if from a great distance, Thomas says,
"Well done Nils, we are finished."
Slowly, Ajax is able to return his senses to the mundane
world. "Wow, that was pretty incredible." He says.
Lisa answers, "Yeah, it's pretty wiz. Well, you can
get to know the others better later on. I have got to get
through the other drek. It may not seem like it, but that
whole link think took two hours, so we've only got about
45 minutes before the whistle blows and I am outta here."
Ajax gives up the blood and watches as it is stored in
a small magical vessel in a safe in Thomas's study, which
doubles as a ritual room. Some paperwork is done and Lisa
nonchalantly asks for the first months' dues of 2,000 nuyen.
Ajax pays it with equal nonchalance although he knows he
getting down to a few thousand nuyen.
Thomas briefly talks with Ajax, welcoming him to the group
and asking him to return tomorrow to perform a quest. Ajax
is a little confused, but agrees and leaves for the day.
He almost too tired to even go out, but then he spots Monica
watching him from down the corridor with a come hither smile
and he finds new reserves of energy.
Ajax's Astral Quest for Grade 1 (09FEB2058)
09FEB2058 (S): Ajax delicately slides Monica's arm off
of his body and slips out of bed. He quickly gets ready
and takes an air taxi to the group headquarters. He smiles
at the thought of having a group headquarters.
The building is empty except for Thomas. "Hello Ajax,
I see that you survived Monica. She is a very friendly person
and we all understand and except that as long as she does
not impede us with her activities." Thomas stands there
silently until Ajax gives a questioning look.
"Hmm? Oh right. Well it's quite simple really. You're
in the big leagues now Ajax. I am going to help you navigate
the metaplanes themselves. If all goes well, you will see
Gargoyle himself before this weekend is through. Now follow
Ajax is a little stunned. The notion of seeing Gargoyle
is a little overwhelming. Until now, his interactions with
his Totem had been superficial and vague at best. More like
a fleeting scent or glancing caress. Ajax follows Thomas
up a small spiral staircase into a large open room with
a glass dome that commands a magnificent view. The room
has various gargoyle icons scattered about it. Stone statues
with fierce visages, long talons, and piercing stares. The
room itself radiates a sense of belonging and well being.
This is a powerful Shamanic lodge indeed. Thomas leads him
into a central depression and they both kneel on large comfortable
"Trust me, they won't seem that comfortable after
days pass." He smirks as he presses a button on the
remote and the door to the room closes and the sounds of
heavy bolts sealing can be heard. The dome turns slightly
more opaque. Thomas sets the remote aside and lays down
on the cushion. "Now lay down, close your eyes, relax,
and project yourself."
Ajax projects and sees Thomas doing likewise. The room
looks quite different now. The shimmering magical walls
of a shamanic lodge glow just inside the perimeter of the
glass dome. Virtually every object in the room glows with
magical energy. Thomas looks quite different in Astral space.
His Astral form is that of a tall, lean, muscular man. His
head is bereft of the unruly mop of hair his physical body
has, and his eyes are swirling clouds of smoky gray. His
ears have a slight point to them and his features are significantly
more angular and chiseled than his physical form shows.
He wears a black longcoat with the collar turned up. His
fingers are longer and more slender, and his nails are also
noticeably longer. When he smiles, his mouth is full of
sharp canine teeth. Ajax fails to restrain a slight reaction
and pulls back slightly.
Thomas answers in a soothing voice, "Fear not Ajax,
it is still me. This is the appearance that suits my Astral
self. I am close to Gargoyle and I bear his likeness somewhat.
I have no mirror handy, but rest assured that your form
bears the mark of Gargoyle as well, albeit more appealing
than mine. Now come, we have much to cover and time passes
so very quickly while we are here.
"We are going to travel to the metaplanes, a place
beyond normal Astral space and one that can only be visited
by the Initiated, which you are becoming now. To me, the
metaplanes are a vast number of different places where magic
takes form and substance according to a given paradigm.
Others would argue that the metaplanes are simply reflections
of the same place, seen and interacted with differently
based up on the viewer and his perceptions. Regardless of
whence they come, you can see different places here. Each
of the elements, Fire, Earth, Water, and Air, have their
own planes. Four more conform to the domains of shamanism
- the realms of Man, the Sky, the Waters, and the Land.
Countless others exist that correspond to other paths and
mythologies. Lin Sun, for example, no doubt visits a plane
populated with foo dogs, serpentine dragons, oni, and spirits
of her ancestors."
Thomas says little after this. For what seem to be hours,
Thomas teaches Ajax to access the metaplanes. Much of this
time is meditation, as it is very hard at first to have
the proper mental state to step sideways into the metaplanes.
Thomas forces Ajax to practice it until it is easy. "You
must master this before we continue, lest you risk being
trapped in the planes. We should move on soon though, it
has already been at least a day in the physical world and
I want to resolve this before the weekend ends."
Ajax looks puzzled as he asks, "But how can we stay
here for so long? Is it not a matter of hours before we
can no longer return to our bodies?"
Thomas smiles, a gesture that is not as reassuring or comforting
with his current appearance. "You are correct, normally
that would be the case, but with Astral Quests like this,
it is not. I cannot explain why, it simply is."
Although Ajax has only known Thomas for a short time, it
is strange to hear him confess ignorance on a topic without
even hazarding a theory.
Thomas steps sideways into the metaplanes, beckoning Ajax
to follow. Ajax steps through and Thomas is waiting and
smiling. "My task is done here. Now you must seek the
citadel yourself. The path you take is between you and Gargoyle.
Do not be too upset if you fail. These quests are not always
fruitful the first time. Good luck." He reaches forward
to shake Ajax's hand and Ajax notices that his own hand
is somewhat elongated and slender. Like Thomas, his fingernails
are longer as well. He is snapped out of his contemplation
as Thomas lets go of his hand and slips back out of the
Ajax floats in a strange gray nothing for some time, but
time seems beyond comprehension here. He thinks about getting
more magic power, but nothing happens. He thinks about Gargoyle,
but nothing happens. He thinks of the faces of the statues
in the room, but nothing happens. He sighs and relaxes,
uncertain what to ponder and something happens.
Ajax's longcoat whips about him as a sharp cold wind cuts
into him and the gray nothing turns into a dark, moonless
city landscape. He is standing on the roof of what appears
to be a gothic cathedral. About him are gargoyle statues,
evenly spaced about the periphery of the roof. They are
crouched and leering, motionless except for one. On the
far side of the roof, one of the shapes stands up, rolls
its shoulders and neck as if waking up from slumber. It
looks like an elf in a long coat, about the same height
as Ajax. It turns about and Ajax is mildly shocked, but
this time maintains his composure. The . . . Elf looks like
a roughly hewn version of Ajax. It stride grimly towards
the center of the roof, it's face expressionless, and stops.
It stands there, staring at Ajax. Ajax strides forth and
just as he reaches the center, it crouches into a fighting
stance and begins to circle about Ajax.
Ajax's mind races. What should he do? Flee? Strike it down
with a spell? Talk to it? Yes talk to it, that makes sense;
find out what he's dealing with.
Ajax asks, "What are you?"
"You." It answers in a gravely voice.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean nothing more than what I say. I am you and
right now, you are your own worst enemy."
It strikes out at Ajax, it's hands glowing slightly as
it does. Ajax dodges back and left to no avail. It is as
if the creature tracks the motion precisely and the blow
reaches the spot Ajax is moving to as he does. Ajax still
manages to roll with it somehow and mitigates the damage.
It half yells, "Those that walk with Gargoyle must
be able to glean information where the normal man sees none.
Think fool, you're embarrassing me!"
It strikes again, but it is a little too sure of itself
this time and the strike is telegraphed. Ajax easily dodges
and brings his fist up into the side of it's face. His fist
glows slightly when he strikes.
It laughs, and rubs its jaw as it steps back, "We
are a little prone to being cocky aren't we? Yet another
weakness that does not make us worthy of higher magicks."
It circles about Ajax as it talks and Ajax thinks hard,
trying to imagine how he places his feet. It's doing exactly
what he would do.
"Perhaps, but I can temper my cockiness with intelligence,
whereas you are just a mockery of me." The comment
catches it slightly off guard and Ajax feints with what
he thinks would be a normal attack for him to make. It dodges
out of the way smirking, but the smirk disappears when it
sees that it is moving into a second strike. Ajax is not
a big fan of kicks, because he can't do them as well, but
he lifts his leg and slams the heel of his foot into its
chest, knocking it back. The blow almost knocks it out,
but a vestige of consciousness clings.
Ajax is feeling the pain where it struck him. He hopes
that it is in worse shape, but he can't be sure. "Had
enough? I don't think you're really Ajax material, friend,
maybe you should move along before you get hurt." Ajax
finds the trash talk from his time in prison flowing freely.
Aggression fills him with a renewed vigor. "You are
constrained by my weaknesses and habits, but I can choose
to adapt. You are no threat to me."
It must be feeling the rage too, Ajax thinks, as it bellows
and charges him. Ajax ducks low as it reaches him and sweeps
it's leg, a maneuver he saw Piker execute. It stumbles and
trips as it continues past Ajax. "Bad move, we're not
that good at this stuff to be telegraphing our moves that."
It grimaces as it struggles to steady itself. It fails
and falls onto the barbed tail of one of the Gargoyle statues.
It smiles and sighs deeply, vanishing when the breath ends.
The landscape melts away and is replaced by another. It
is night. Ajax is standing before a building that looks
like a medieval castle. Gargoyle statues are perched all
around the battlements. Ajax walks cautiously towards the
main entrance. As he crosses the drawbridge, he notices
a slight motion. The Gargoyles on the wall are not statues
at all, they are alive.
When he reaches the gate, one of the Gargoyles swoops down,
alights a few meters from Ajax, and walks to the door, opening
it for him and gesturing for him to enter. Ajax steps in
and sees the interior is lit by torches and candles.
It speaks in a gravely voice, "May I ask who are you
and why are you here?"
Ajax hesitates, but answers, "Ajax, I am not exactly
sure why I am here."
It replies, "You will have to do better than that.
I will not know where to lead you."
Ajax says, "I am here to learn about the higher mysteries."
It nods and smiles, "Of course, Nils. I almost forgot
about you. It took you long enough to get here. I had almost
given up hope on you. Your first lesson is simple in concept
if not execution. Gargoyle gathers information, but if his
prey knows his nature, it is more difficult. Ascend to the
top of this place and walk the walls until you can hide
yourself from the watchers there. It is an intuitive skill,
but let me Mask you once so that you have some notion of
what it feels like.
He waves a claw and Ajax feels a subtle, diffuse numbness.
It's not a physical numbness, it's something else. Ajax
looks down at his body and notices that the glow of his
Astral form is gone. "I see."
He shakes his head and retorts, "Actually, no you
don't, but you will. Now go, learn, and leave. I have things
Ajax ascends to the roof and over the span of hours finally
manages to reliably maintain the same Masking effect such
that the guardians can not see him. As he finishes the circuit
without being detected, the landscape vanishes and he is
back in his body, staring at a white circle that reads Royal
Worcester. It is a tea cup.
"Hello again!" says Thomas as he proffers the
cup. "Have some tea. It's just about dinner time. Let's
grab something to eat and then you can head home and consider
your experience. It looks like it worked, your aura is stronger
than when you first showed up. Well done."
Prelude to Run 2
11FEB2058 (M): Monday seem duller than ever at work, but
Ajax is unstoppable. He exudes confidence, the confidence
of someone that has joined a very exclusive club with very
demanding tastes. He has risen to a higher plane, literally.
The petty squabbles are beneath him now and he radiates
an aura that tells people he should be CEO. A few date offers
are made, but he shrugs them off. There's really only one
way he'll get a chance to stretch his magical legs and that's
on a run. It's time to stop waiting for runs to come to
him and go get them.
Kuma is alone in his apartment, his only companion the
glow and noise of his trideo. Monday night passes and the
Screamers just barely missed the point spread. What's a
few hundred nuyen anyway? Actually, lately, it's quite a
bit. Shadowrunning is a little harder to break into than
His friends tell him basically the same things: it's a
hard biz to start in, but after the first run, the work
just keeps coming'; he's got the skills, but it's takes
a while for the smell of the Yakuza to wash away; and other
encouraging phrases. It's all well and good, but he's turning
into a couch potato, a bored, poor, and aggravated couch
potato. Without money and resources, he will never get his
vengeance. Heck, the next rent check is looking pretty steep
And then the phone rings...
The vidphone is unable to call up an ID on the caller,
so Kuma answers it voice only, "Hello?"
[Korean] "Hey buddy! How are things going?" Kuma
recognizes the voice as that of Kim, a Decker he knows that
works with the Pusan Seoulpa Ring. Kim is doing a bad job
of hiding some concern.
Kuma answers in Korean, "Yes?"
[Korean] "I have some work for you. I need you to
find at least three other people. Make sure one can sling
Mojo. Ability with guns as well as close in fighting would
be good. A healer might be nice in case there is collateral
damage. And don't grab any psychos, this job will call for
some control. Try to get some bona fide freelancers for
this one, underworld talent is no good, and it goes without
saying, no Yakuza people. Call me back when you have some
people lined up and I'll set up a meeting. I am not going
to be there myself, but you know I don't care much for putting
my meatbod in harm's way. I'll give you the details when
you call me back. Here's a temporary LTG that you can reach
me at this week. Anyway, I need to hustle to set up the
rest of this. I look forward to hearing from you. Oh, damn,
I almost forgot, do you want the job?" The display
lights up with an LTG number, added a tint of green illumination
to Kuma's face as if cueing him to talk.
Kuma evenly and quietly answers in Korean, "Yes."
[Korean] "All right, cool, just use the LTG I sent
and I'll talk to ya later. Oh yeah, time is of the essence,
bigger bucks for faster resolution, if ya know what I mean,
so if you could get back to me tonight that would be cool.
I have been instructed to call someone new if I don't hear
back from ya by 4:00 AM; sorry man, it's not me, you know
that. Out." Kim's hyper voice stops filling the room
with anxiety and the sounds of the trideo once again dominate.
It's 1:00 AM on Monday morning, but most of the people
Kuma knows are not exactly early to bed types. A few calls
later and he has no prospects, but he has learned some things
he didn't know. Truman is feeling the tension of the Mob
War heating up. He almost had a war in his waiting room
when a Yak enforcer and Ring soldier crossed paths; only
the wonders of stun gas saved him the hassle. Elise is personally
escorting some nova hot ware in from Denver and she's in
the middle of some big stuff.
It's 2:00 AM on Monday morning. Most places are closing
by now. Moon's should still be open, and Kuma knows that
most of the people there are just what he's looking for,
Shadowrunners. He straps on his street gear and heads out.
Piker sits in a dim, candlelit room. The weeks of hassle
setting her up new condo seem like a pleasant recreation
now. She had to buy a fake ID to set up everything without
a big hassle. It was a bit expensive
Smoke from incense-filled braziers rises about her in
soft, undulating streams. Her arms are at her side and it
becomes apparent that she is not actually sitting on the
ground per se. Rather, she is suspending herself on the
tips of her outstretched fingers. The muscles of her arms
and forearms strain with the effort, although for brief
instants the muscles seem to relax and a glimmer of calm
settles over her face. It is disappears almost as quickly
as it appears. The large muscular Troll is clad only in
cutoff sweat pants and a sleeveless shirt that exposes her
midriff, a mass of heaving muscle. Sweat coats her body,
dripping from her nose and coursing down her huge, sinewy
arms, collecting in a small puddle beneath her.
Her muscles relax once more, but they stay that way for
a few seconds and her expression and body begin to relax.
She smiles with satisfaction and promptly falls to the ground,
splashing into the puddle of her own sweat, sending it flying
in a shower about her. Satisfaction gives way to shock and
is immediately turned into rage. "Fraaaaag!" She
The huge Troll slumps in a cross-legged pose of despair
and disgust, sighing heavily. A Korean woman walks in, Piker
struggles to remember her name, but fails. Piker has only
seen her once, when she shook hands on her way into this
room twelve days ago. The whole experience with this "Magical
Group" has been a little less interesting than she
had thought. Her Dad told her about and she showed up. She
was shown to a nice home in Snohomish where she was briefly
introduced to Ms. . . Kim! That's it, Ms. Kim!
Ms. Kim steps closer and begins to snuffout the candles
and incense. "That is enough training for now. You
need time to consider what you have learned."
Piker grunts, "Done. I'm a Troll and I'm fraggin'
Ms. Kim smiles politely, "Yes, there are more lessons
that will reveal themselves. The strength of your physical
body will make this challenge much greater for you than
it would another. None of are members are Trolls. This test
is usually too much for them to endure. You have already
lasted longer than many. Your father endured this test as
well. We all do. Our kind are the most frequently exploited
because of the physical nature of our abilities. We tend
to have weaknesses in character, mental prowess, and judgement
that lead us into the shackles of servitude to those that
would use us as expendable thugs and disposable weapons.
We are committed to determine our own destiny, to fight
the battles that we choose, and walk our own paths. We cannot
afford a person weak in mind, will, or spirit. Such a weak
link would endanger us all."
Ms. Kim smiles genuinely, "However, there is no need
to break your spirit. Go now and rest. We can resume when
you are ready. When you pass this test, you will meet the
others and be instructed further. Surely you have seen something
Piker shrugs, "Yeah, but I can't explain it. Sometimes,
it just gets a whole lot easier, but den it gets hard again.
And there's some sort of weird feeling when that happens,
but that's about it."
Ms. Kim nods, "As it should be, good night."
She backs out of the room and she can be heard walking briskly
up the steps out of this basement level.
Piker stands up out of the cold pool of sweat and ascends
the stairs to the bedroom that has been set aside for her.
It's dark outside and the clock advertises the time as 2200,
11FEB2058. Plenty of time to get to Moon's and get some
Kuma Buys Lots of Small Packages (10FEB2058)
The back room of the warehouse is rather bland and utilitarian.
The fireteam stationed around the room remind Kuma that
Elise is a business acquaintance and nothing more. The young
Elven woman is attractive, but not remarkably so. Her hair
is a short androgynous style and she wears very little makeup.
The Khakis serve to further conceal her feminine traits.
These are working hours and if nothing else, Elise is professional.
A cigarette hangs from her mouth as she pulls out some packets
and small boxes from a canvas satchel and places them on
the worn and scarred table.
Elise looks over the pile and points as she rattles off
the list. "Ruger Jotun sound suppressor, TI's latest
model of ultrasonic imaging goggles, and a lot of explosives."
She looks at the list that Kuma scrawled on the cocktail
napkin a week ago. She gestures with her cigarette to each
pile in turn. "Ten kilos commercial, ten C4, two C12,
five radio detonators, and five timer detonators."
She pushes the piles towards Kuma. "That quantity
in that time ran a little bit more expensive than it would
have been otherwise. The final cost will be ¥9300. I'm
surprised you didn't order any body bags to go with that.
You know, starting wars can be unhealthy. "
"Don't worry about me, Elise. I have a lot more time these
days to keep a tight scan on my health. Besides, a little
war never hurt anyone," grins Kuma as he slots the cred.