Kuma Healing (12FEB2058)
Val pulls into the apartment complex, through the automatic
sliding gate entrance. The rest of the runners have already
been dropped off, the run completed. Kuma wanted to drive
his Ferrari home, but Val easily convinced him of that danger.
A promise to check up on the car was assurance enough for
the battered samurai. The engine purrs quietly away as Val
commands the car shutdown. She moves to the rear and starts
gathering some basic medical supplies. Kuma just sits in
the passenger seat for a couple moments, realizing the "breach
of security" that this trip has caused. "Hey Val,
I need a favor from you, soka? I need you to keep this place
quiet. I didn't really mean to bring people from work here.
You know, for security reasons. If you could keep this apartment
just between us, that'd be wiz, wakarimasukane?" asks
Kuma suppressing a nervous feeling.
Val answers, "Yeah, sure. I got all kinds a secrets,
patient confidentiality and all that. Heck, I could probably
hire a fraggin' army of sammies if I needed to. Damn near
half of the sammies in this city had their hoops pulled
out of a drek storm by my crew when I was with DW."
[Lars (The player that runs Kuma): I've decided to make
things interesting and have Kuma attracted to Val. He is
going to stay at home, healing up. Normally he wouldn't
have the runners over to his middle class apartment, but
in a moment of weakness he has Val drive him there. Kuma
isn't really a ladies man and is generally kind of shy about
these things, so he won't make a move, but a perceptive
Val might pick up on it over the next two days.
GM: The thoughts seem a little more distant, like a fuzzy
memory for the heavily cybered Kuma. Having a remarkably
attractive and affable woman tending to his wounds in his
home manages to cut through the static of survival instinct
and grim facades. The extension of mutual trust on the part
of both, Kuma revealing his home address and Valkyrie trusting
him enough to be alone with him, is a strong start for a
Val seems a little more nonchalant about being allowed
to visit Kuma's home than Kuma might wish. He can't read
whether or not that is a simple facade of staying cool or
if she really does not think it's important. Either way,
she is surprisingly physical with him, helping him onto
his recliner, taking his armor and boots off, cleaning and
re-dressing his wounds more thoroughly. She hands him the
remote to his trideo and stands up. She is tall for a human
and somewhat big boned. Combined with her very overt armored
jacket, she is probably safer than most walking the streets.
She flashes a warm smile and speaks for the first time since
entering the apartment, "Well, that should do ya for
now. I'm going to run some errands and check in with some
people then I'll be back later to bring dinner and change
those dressings. See ya!"
She turns away and walks out the door, her baggy cargo
pants obfuscating further information on her body. Kuma
realizes that he is craning to look at her and sits back
in his chair, uncertain how he should feel.
Later that night...
The face in the camera is Val, partially hidden behind
packets of food. Kuma buzzes her in. She walks past him
to the table and sets down the food. A fragrant scent of
a floral garden casting off its morning dew follows her.
She is dressed very differently and the grime of the ashen
wastes of the morning has been washed away.
She is decked out in a tight, matte black skinsuit and
a deep burgundy jacket that is probably armored. There is
little question that she works out frequently. Her hair
is pulled back, exposing her datajacks, which have been
capped with chrome plugs that match the simple silver necklace
she wears around her neck. There is a key of some sort on
the necklace, like those used in mechanical locks, but a
little too long for that. She slips a smaller case off of
her shoulder. It is an unmarked, sturdy plastic case.
"All right, I have no fraggin' clue what this food
is, I forgot to get my Korean L-chip back from Hound. I
went to a little restaurant just down the street. I think
it's Korean food, but I can't be sure. If there are any
eyeballs or squid brains, I apologize." She laughs
as she opens the containers and spreads them out on the
table. She hands some chopsticks to Kuma and then starts
wolfing down food as if the building were on fire. Watching
her eat seems a little more interesting to Kuma than he
would have expected.
Kuma eats the food, finding himself much more hungry than
he had thought. Mostly he keeps quiet, but a couple of times
he tries to impress Val with some esoteric piece of curious
knowledge that remotely pertains to Korean food and culture.
The words seem to fumble a bit, nothing like the storytelling
mastery he had envisioned in his mind.
Val does show interest in what Kuma says. She asks a number
of questions and they engage in an active dialogue. As the
discussions closes, Kuma says something to the effect of
"I don't mean to bore you." She smiles answers
with, "Oh, null sheen, anything is better than sitting
here watching a box. People are far more interesting than
a trideo." The conversation dies as suddenly as it
Kuma keeps quiet through the rest of dinner and through
a final wound check before Val leaves.
The next day day and night pass routinely. Val keeps Kuma's
dressings clean and tended. He heals in a fraction of the
time, being completely good to go on the morning of 14FEB2058,
Valentine's Day, just under 48 hours after he was injured.
Val stops by one last time Thursday morning to check up
on Kuma. The wounds have almost completely healed and Kuma
is left with only a lingering soreness and aching. As she's
gathering her medkit to leave, "Hey, if you're not
doing anything this Saturday [16FEB58], there's a Screamers
game on channel four I was going to watch. I could grab
some synthbeers and you could come over if ya want?"
asks Kuma, trying to act non-chalant.
Val stops and stands arms akimbo in a relaxed stance, craning
her head as if looking for the answer. "Hmmm. I pretty
much only watch the trid when I am recovering from wounds.
The isolation and inactivity drives me crazy otherwise.
I prefer to watch the games live and when I can't do that
I usually watch them at a sports bar Downtown called Bullets
& Balls. Tell you what, before I go on my hot date tonight,
I'll try and score some tickets for us. If that doesn't
work, you're welcome to come on over to B&B. Wiz?"
She smiles and waits for Kuma's answer, her hand on the
"Wiz," responds Kuma, masking his disappointment
at the mention of Val's hot date. "Let me know the
stat. By the way, thanks for the help," adds the samurai.
She gives a nod and leaves. "Time for some range time
to clear the mind," says Kuma to himself.
Kuma Visits Truman [15FEB2058]
"You look top shelf, my friend," finishes the
street doc as he walks over to the trash bin and toss a
pair of latex gloves away. "That medic work covered
all the bases."
Truman turns to Kuma with an expectant 'anything else?'
look. The human man looked worn and battered under the strong
fluorescent lights, although Kuma knew him to be in his
early fifties and still in good shape. A close-cropped buzz
cut and some forearm tattoos described his former career
with the army, although Kuma learned quickly that that was
an off-limit topic. Still, the man hadn't lost his edge
working the shadows these years.
Kuma hops off the examination table and grabs his sweatshirt.
"No sir, I'm good physically. Although there was something
I wanted to mention. I heard there was some trouble here
a week or so again between some passing clients. I have
spare time in my new line of work and you've fronted a lot
of good work for my chrome over these years. I was wondering
if you'd mind me hanging out in your office as extra protection?
No charge, just keeping my friends and resources safe, wakarimasuka?
This war is look to turn bloody before it washes."
Truman looks suspicious and he doesn't try to hide the
emotion. "Hey omae, now that you're loose . . . well, I
don't know how to say this, but . . . you might be more
dangerous to have around than not. A lot of the Yaks will
know you and get pissed, and my Family friends will assume
you're a Yak and that I am showing favoritism. I appreciate
the offer omae, but I think it would do more harm than good.
If the need arises, I will give you a call right away. You
can rest assured your on my 'Oh Shit!' alert roster." Truman
smiles and nods towards the door. "Now get out of here before
we start smooching." He says wryly.
"Hai, wakarimasu," says Kuma a little bothered by the situation.
"You gotta look out for the biz. You know where to reach
me," says Kuma as he finished dressing. He then heads out.
Everyone receives a message from Val [15FEB2058]
The machine queues up the next message. The video lights
up with Val's smiling face. "Hey there omae! I've got some
wiz tickets to a private booth for the next Urban Brawl
game! You gotta come. It's tomorrow. Let me know the deal,
we'll meet at Bullets and Balls first and head over from
there. So ka?"
Kuma calls Kim [16FEB2058]
"Kim, thanks for the work the other day. Things worked
out and I think I got my foot in the biz now. Anyways, I'm
calling about some work I want you to do for me. First off,
remember that ID you set me up with a month ago. I finally
have some more cred to chrome it up and I want you to put
in some more work in making the identity more solid. I know
you could spend all year jacked in and sleazing DMV sites,
but I only got 7k for the work now.
"The other work is more sensitive. Remember that work
you did for me while I was still in the clan? I want you
to keep on scanning through the shadows for some solid leads
about those events. I need to put a bullet in the skull
of those slitches, but I'm not going to geek the whole city
or randomly start dropping yaks, even if they are double-talking
fraggers. I'll slot you a thou a month for that work and
some extra when you get some I can bite.
Kim perks up, "Yeah, omae, sounds straight. I'll add
a few things here and there and see what I can do; I'll
call ya if there's any problem. The long term thing sounds
null sheen. It's sort of a hobby anyway, keeping tabs on
the underworld. Scan this, word is that the some groups
are looking to ties up loose ends. Dangerous and intimate
knowledge falling into the hands of enemies, and drek like
that. Seeing as how you just left a pretty close-mouthed
team recently, you might be looking at a premature retirement
package, if ya know what I mean. I'd avoid eating at sushi
joints or tea houses for a couple months if I was you, omae.
And keep your six jacked." His beaming face leans forward
and a band across the screen reads "Ready for transmission."
Kim says, "Just slot that cred friend and I'll get
my deck jumping."
"Oh yeah, chrome work on the run there. They were
pretty happy with the results on the whole. There seemed
to be something weird going on with Lim, the guy who hired
you, but Mother and Shinjo are happy and that's as good
as it gets when dealing with them. Ya know, if you feel
like sitting back and pulling other people's strings, you
might be a good replacement for their lost members."
Kim grins then breaks into laughter, "Yeah right. Take
you off the streets, you'd wither up and die. Ya got anything
else for me omae?"
Piker's Messages [16FEB2058]
A bone tired Piker shoves open her door and trudges into
her apartment. The smell of fresh carpet and the wiz water
cooler lift her spirits. Life is good even if she feels
half-dead. Her vid phone shows a message. She walks over
by the vid phone and says, "Play phone messages."
The first five messages are hang-ups. The sixth is not.
Piker's vidscreen turns on, showing Kuma's rugged asian
face. It's difficult to read his state of mind, but Piker
thinks he is relaxed. "Piker, Kuma here," begins
the samurai. "I wanted to know if you'd be interested
in getting together later this week for some sparring time?
I've purged my old ties and there's no better way to keep
the edge than in the real." Kuma pauses for a second
and then adds, "But if you're busy, maybe you could
just slot me a good place to find some sparring action on
There is a seventh message as well. The video lights up
with Val's smiling face. "Hey there Colossus! I've
got some wiz tickets to a private booth for the next Urban
Brawl game! You gotta come. It's this Saturday. Let me know
the deal, we'll meet at Bullets and Balls first and head
over from there. So ka?"
The machine clicks off and the apartment goes silent once
again. Cool, clean air washes over Piker from a ceiling
fan overhead. It feels good, but the more she meditates,
the less important personal comfort seems to be. She wonders
if that is a good thing.
Piker realizes she only has a few hours before meeting
the group at the urban brawl game. She showers and gets
ready; and then grabs a bite to eat before heading to the
Take Me Out To The Brawl Game [16FEB2058]
It's the Saturday after the run and there is an Urban Brawl
in the Redmond Barrens. The Sioux Council's Lakota Arrows
are facing off against the home team, UCAS's Seattle Screamers.
Val has managed to score a Brawl Room, a private room for
tonight's Urban Brawl, and invites the team along. The top
four floors of the Warwick Hotel downtown have been blocked
off for patrons of the Urban Brawl. Rooms like this are
for people with clout, a whole lot of nuyen, or both. CEOs,
dons, and oyabuns are the kind of people that can secure
rooms like these.
Alex seems right at home, as does Val. Of course, both
of them usually seem right at home wherever they are. Kuma
looks a little on edge, reverting to his stone cold demeanor.
Piker finds it hard to resist touching things and pointing
out amenities, making the hotel staff nervous. Hound is
quietly taking it all in.
As they walk down the corridor, the rules of Urban Brawl
are emerging from speakers in sultry woman's voice. She
is identified as Chrome Kitty, a SimSense porn star. The
attempt to make the rules sound sexy is odd, but so is Urban
Brawl. It is the Warwick of course, so classical music is
the backdrop, making the setting somewhat surreal.
"Urban Brawl is played in four quarters of 30 minutes
each. A play lasts for a maximum of five minutes or until
the play ends. A play ends when a goal is scored, the clock
runs out on a quarter, an official declares the ball dead,
or a wipeout takes place. A wipeout occurs when all players
on a given team are taken out of the game in a single play
due to surrender, wounds, or death." A reverberating
booming sound punctuates the sentence.
"Each team is composed of thirteen players. Four scouts,
four bangers, two heavies, and one blaster make up the eleven
offensive players; they can score a goal. The remaining
two players are the outrider and medico; neither of these
players can take possession of or advance the ball."
A hawk's screech is heard over the speaker. "Scouts
wear light armor and carry a personal sidearm." The
sound of a stick banging on a trash can is heard over the
speaker. "Bangers wear medium armor and carry a personal
sidearm." The cocking and firing of a shotgun is heard.
"Heavies wear medium armor and carry a personal sidearm
as well as the player's choice of one heavier small arm."
The heavy report of machinegun fire is heard over the speaker
and the voice reverberates the word, "Blaster."
The woman continues, "Blasters wear light armor and
are equipped with a gyro mounted machinegun Ooh, such a
"Two balls are in play simultaneously." The woman's
voice giggles. "As if that's not enough fun, both teams
try to score simultaneously. Jacked there, chipped that."
She giggles again.
A man's voice interrupts, "All right fans, Kitty is
going to cool off and I'll fill in the the boring details.
Both teams advance the ball. Penalties are called for .
. ." the announcer shifts into high speed legal disclaimer
speak, ". . . arson, deliberate attacks on disabled
or surrendered brawlers, deliberate attacks on brawlers
under a penalty, illegal intelligence, insufficient offense,
leaving the brawl zone, roughing the medicos, roughing the
officials, unauthorized ball carriage, unauthorized destruction
of property, unsportsmanslike conduct, and use of an unauthorized
firearm." The announcer finally takes a breath. "Whew.
Today's Brawl is brought to you by Ares Macrotechnology,
better technology for a safer tomorrow; Renraku . . ."
Val steps up to an elevator and slots a card key. The team
steps in, barely fitting with Piker, and the chatter of
the speaker fades to nothing as the doors close. There are
no visible surveillance systems, but the whole team is confident
they are present.
Ajax says offhandedly, "Almost a shame to be cut off
from the chatter, I'm not really an expert on the game.
Maybe one of you can fill in the rest."
Hound pipes up almost immediately, "Yeah, well they
covered most of it. The field is a patch of city, about
three blocks by four blocks. They come in a day in advance
and run everyone out in a technically legal fashion, then
rig up a truck load of drones and cameras."
Val interjects, "More like half a dozen truckloads."
Piker adds, "Yeah, and da area has to have open roads
on DA perimeter."
Hound continues, "Right, like I was saying, each player
has yellow lights that show when he is out of play whether
due to a penalty or surrender."
Piker interjects, "Fraggin' chipless cowards."
Hound, "Yeah, well sometimes it makes sense, especially
if your leg is blown off and no one thinks to call you wounded.
Of course, the yellow lights have a particularly big stripe
along the spine..."
Piker speaks up, "The Outrider is der only way to
move fast on DA field, but she can't advance DA ball and
needuh can her passengers. The medico is totally hands off."
Val interjects, "Damn right!"
Piker continues, "DA udder eleven do DA scoring and
shooting. Oh yeah, DA outrider can shoot people, run dem
down, whatever. She can be offensive like dat, but she can't
just be offensive in moving DA ball."
Hound faces Ajax as he speaks, "Speaking of the ball,
it's bright yellow and sorta like a soccer ball, but made
of smooth dense plastifoam and painted a painfully bright
yellow color. It's not supposed to be fashionable, just
visible. Oh, and the players have to carry it in their hands
or tucked under their arm."
The conversation pauses as Val reaches the door of the
room. She slots a gold-plated card key and the lock opens
silently. She leads the group in, stops turns and wave them
in with a flourish. The room is spacious, decked out with
banks of trideos, comfortable furniture, and a full, if
small, bar, replete with three beers on tap. Val stretches
out her arms, smirks, and asks, "Will this do?"
The team members nod and smile their approval and settle
down for an evening of violent entertainment. Piker heads
straight to the bar, Kuma heads to the chair in the corner
farthest from the door, Hound plops down in the seat with
the greatest view of the banks of monitors, Ajax scan the
room carefully as he walks in and then sits in the middle
of a large sofa, spreading his arms wide and sinking into
the large cushions, flanked by the two party girls he brought
along with him. They giggle, smile and cuddle up to him.
Val smirks at the display and plops down in a large armchair
and throws her feet up onto an ottoman.
Piker passes the various team members, handing out real
beer, not the synthbeer they usually drink. The last person
she hands a beer to is Kuma, and she sits down near him
in a Troll-friendly armchair. She says to Kuma, "Hey I got
yur message. Sure, I don' mine gettin' togeder and sparring.
Actually, I was going to do some sparring tomorrow, you
Elise Calls Kuma About Bullets [02MAR2058]
"Yeah, Kuma, I can't seem to find any of the rounds
you were looking for. As far as I can tell, APDS are only
made standard for autocannons and the like. I might be able
to track down an Armorer willing to help you out with making
some custom rounds for your SMGs. Heck, I can't even find
any of these babies in the autocannon variety. The fort
is tighter than a drum and my military contacts keep trying
to push off explosive and incendiary rounds on me, they
don't seem to understand the idea of subtlety, they think
a big bang is always good; a real pain in the ass. Sorry
I couldn't help ya, but I did try."
"What I did manage to scrounge up was some basic AP rounds
as well as Teflon-coated rounds. I have a box of 50 of the
AP and two boxes of 50 of the Teflon-coated. Do you want
either of those?"
"Probably, these streets seem to be getting more dangerous
every day. How much are those running? Who am I sleazing,
as long as I'm not selling my soul, I'll take all of it,"
Elise smiles, "Yeah, I figured. That will run 2200."
An encrypted transaction window pops up on the vidphone,
the flashing "2200" waiting expectantly.
Kuma slots the cred and arranges to pick up the ammo at
Elise's next available opening.
The House Always Wins [18FEB2058-12MAR2058]
Kuma does some gambling with 15k
- sporting events - lose 3k
- bets at street racing - lose 4k
- a weekly poker game - win 2k
- a weekly visit to some underground casinos - lose 4k
Net loss of 9k.
No color here, too much interim stuff to resolve.