Under the bright glare of the magnifier-lamp workstation
Kozmo stares intently at a circuit board looking for any
defects or breaks in the intricate weave of printed circuit
lines and solder points. Hearing a soft beeping in the background
he looks up and turns turns around still holding the board.
He sees the clock on the wall flashing 4:00 a.m., he's been
at this all night, the damned remote camera board he scrounged
up is a dud. There's a break on the board somewhere, but
he's been at this too long. Time for some rest. He puts
his tools and supplies away in the workshop. He walks over
to the computer on the table in the corner. Kozmo got the
computer for his uncle to update his store records and keep
better track of the store business. After a month or so
Kozmo found it outside in the trash. When he asked his uncle
why it was in the dumpster he was given a grumbling response
in Russian, something about a ghost in the machine. Now
Kozmo uses it to find parts dealers and electronics on the
As he sits down to the computer he notices a message from
his friend Digit, who's probably been up all night surfing
the matrix. Kozmo bangs out a quick reply and hits send.
Seconds later he receives an instant message from Digit.
"Hey chummer, what are you doing up?" Digit asks. Not surprised
that Digit is still up and online, Kozmo decides to reply.
"Hey omae, I'm burning the midnight oil...as always?"
"What's going on? Big job?" inquires Digit.
"Yeah, my team just got an 'office' together. I'm supposed
to be rigging it up with some security. Now that the cred
is starting flow in pretty regular we have to be more careful
with our business." Writes Kozmo.
"No kidding, sounds like things are working out for you
in your new line of work." Says Digit.
"Yeah, its working out well. Actually, the team is starting
to pull in work from a lot of different areas. I kind of
felt like I was having to bring in the first few jobs to
get things going. Seems like I'm the only guy in the group
with many street contacts. I gotta say having a big bro
like Ivan comes in handy. This last mission we did for one
of the team members though." Writes Kozmo.
"How did that work out, sometimes 'working' for an acquaintance
can be tricky" writes Digit.
"It worked well. That tribal I work with was doing some
sort of initiation, I guess into a hunting group or something.
Anyway, she's supposed to hunt down a vampire to get into
this group and she wanted us to help her." Writes Kozmo.
"Whoa! Vampires! No way..." says Digit.
"Hold up omae. They're all cool and neat on the trid in
bad movies, but for real they are bad fraggin' drek. On
top of the super-senses and regeneration thing and what
ever else, these things normally run in groups...so you'll
never really find just one...which makes hunting one a job
for a lot of people. Somehow Arrow convinces us to do this.
Actually, 'us' is me and that pointdexter guy Titus. He's
a little geeky, but his head is screwed on straight. Boomer,
the big fraggin' troll is fine with the job because he can
just blow the shit out of these things and the ork, Fifi,
she's some sort of hunter too. I don't know, those three
were in it partially for the thrill. I like the thrill of
getting away from Lonestar, stickin' it to the corps, or
boosting some chumps wheels, but when something wants to
eat me...well, that's a little different. Anyway, there's
a standing bounty on these things and its some decent cred,
so I'm in for it. Not to mention, I give these guys a tough
time about money, but we've been through enough that I'll
be there when any of them needs someone to cover their back...I
just like to bust there balls on it because some of them
were a little to eager to become chummers right away and
I think we should all be careful because damn...we're criminals."
"So what did you do? You ain't no hunter omae, you a straight
up city-boy :), the only thing you've ever hunted is a big
bag of pretzels in a Stuffer shack " says Digit.
"Very funny chummm-p. Yeah, the best part is that Arrow
says our best bet is this group of these pseudo-vampire
things that live out in the tribal lands. Oh yeah, and they're
in the middle of this cycle where they get ravenous and
their powers peak...it's all good. So we get whatever gear
people need and pack into our 'team' van and drive up to
the tribal lands under the cover that we're going hunting.
We all look completely out of place in our longcoats, but
the hunting cover gets us over the border with our gear.
Once we get up to where these things live Arrow decides
to look around and try to find a guide who can tell her
where to find these things. Meanwhile Boomer and Fifi are
drinking it up in a bar, me and Titus are taking it easy
in our motel room. If we know one thing its that city boys
needed to stay out of the way. So Arrow comes back with
the location of these things and the next morning we get
some breakfast before heading out. When Fifi shows up we
find out she's had this dream where she's running through
the woods and she comes across a woman in a stream...and
she rips the woman's head off and eats her. Its all good."
"Whoa! Did you guys have to geek her write there or what?
This sounds totally like a bad horror movie!" writes Digit.
"No we didn't have to geek Fifi in the restaurant, come
on Digit. It did creep us out a bit though. Anyway, we all
pack in the van and start driving into the woods. There's
lots of hunters up there this time of the year. We get close
to the area these vampire things are and pull off the road.
We start looking around the area. Basically, its Fifi, Boomer,
Titus, and I trying not to make too much noise while Arrow
tracks these beasties. After we've been walking around most
of the day, we come across a stream...and we find the dead
body of a woman who's head has been ripped off and she's
been eaten by some beast. Oh yeah...we're lovin' this job.
So we're all freaked out a little bit, but we figure at
least we know these things are around. We decide to set
up an ambush for the thing that killed the woman. It actually
looks like a small one...which is fine by me. We headed
back to the van to get some food and rest, we meet up with
some tribals at the van who are checking us out to make
sure we weren't the ones who killed the woman. We traded
some attitude, but they left us alone. Finally we tromp
back out into the woods and set up the ambush. We put Arrow
into a clearing as bait while the rest of us watched. I
tell you that was the longest night I've had since that
time I spent up the tree spying on that corp exec for his
wife. Except this night was cold and we come up with nothin'.
All night and we never saw anything. Come early morning
though and we hear this fluster of gun fire not too far
from us. We start running towards the shooting, which is
pretty erratic, finally we get close and Arrow holds us
up to be cautious. We move ahead and find a clearing where
there is a hunting party totally slaughtered and mutilated.
Looks like these beasties got to them. Arrow tracks the
things away from the site and it looks like they're pretty
smart. They attack as a pack and escape by covering their
tracks. Arrow is able to track the beasts back to a cave
in a mountain." Writes Kozmo.
"Omae, tell me you didn't go in!" interrupts
"Would I be here to write this if I had?" replies Kozmo,
"A couple people wanted to go in, but I was definitely NOT.
My idea was to rig up a big bomb and chuck it down there
and go in later, but that idea was not taken well. I thought
we should attack these things when they came out, but we
decided that if the beasts got wind of us that they would
just be able to wipe us out in a one-on-one situation. So
we headed back to the van and actually we found tracks around
our van too. So we decide to set up another ambush at our
van. We take the camo off the dead hunters we found and
used some of their equipment to set up in the trees around
our van." Writes Kozmo.
"Dead guys clothes..." says Digit.
"Hey, you had to be there. We climb up into the trees and
wait for these things that night. It's another long night,
but after a while I see one slink up to the van and check
it out. It doesn't seem interested though because it can
sense there's nothing in there. So after it leaves, Titus
steps up and offers himself as bait in the van. That guy
had some giant brass ones to decide to do that...although
I think we all overestimated the van's ability to provide
safety. So Titus climbs down from his tree and gets in the
van. He turns on the radio and makes some noise. After a
little while these things come back. This time they are
definitely interested. Its not too long that we've got a
whole pack of them surrounding our van. Then they strike
and it was fraggin' unreal! These things are fast and in
a few seconds they swarm the van. One of them rips the back
door straight off its hinges and throws it into the woods...this
is an ARMORED van! Luckily Fifi knocks out a whole bunch
with some wiz spell she's got. This is good because now
we only have to worry about a few that are going to eat
Titus. Arrow takes one out with her shotgun, null sheen.
One of these things is already in the van after Titus and
I almost blew it. My first shot missed, but luckily Titus
was able to hold it off for another second and the next
shot I got at it blew right through its head dropping it
in the van. Meanwhile Boomer is picking off the ones Fifi
knocked out. After my first shot missed, one of these things
starts coming after me and is climbing up the tree pretty
fast. Arrow slows it down and I take a couple shots at it,
but I also have to keep an eye on Titus because I'm the
only one with a clear shot on anything going into the van
after him. Actually for the first time one of our plans
went off almost as we planned it. The way we were set up
each of us could cover someone. Boomer could cover Fifi,
Arrow could cover me, and I could cover Titus. Anyway, we
just start taking these things out one by one. Titus manages
to get out of the van and has another close call before
we can finish these things off. Like I said, we all covered
each other so in the end I think the plan went off well."
"Whoa...you getting to be some kind of wiz bad ass with
that piece you got? Sounds like you and your crew are getting
to be decent at this aren't you?" asks Digit.
"I'd like to think we can handle ourselves now. I think
we're working as a team now. We're starting to get to understand
each other. Anyway, we clean up the van and Arrow needs
the beast's heads to show that we killed them so we collect
them all up. Then we pack up and head home. Arrow gets the
bounty on these things and in the end we all picked up some
nice cred. I gave Arrow some grief about this being an initiation
for her and not really a job and she actually kicked in
some extra cred for the rest of us out of her share. I feel
kind of bad about hassling her though. I'll actually use
the extra cred I got on the security I'm putting together
for the 'office'." Writes Kozmo.
"Yeah, sounds like if you keep up this bad-ass criminal
thing for too long they'll get sick of it." Writes Digit,
"I think you're right in keeping a little distance from
these guys, but don't overdo it, ok." writes Digit.
"I know what you mean. I just want to keep it business-like
until I can really trust everyone. Anyway, I gotta get outta
hear omae. The boss-man is going to be in soon to open the
shop and I need to be gone by then. Otherwise I'll be pulling
a shift tonight instead of hitting the clubs and there's
a new DJ in town who's going to be spinning at Digital Ducats.
You should check it out if you get a chance, I hear the
guy is wiz." Writes Kozmo.
"Later omae, keep it real." replies Digit.
With that Kozmo shuts down the computer. He leans back
far in his chair, reaching his arms up and stretching. Kozmo
gets up and heads toward the back door of the shop. He stops
momentarily to make sure nothing is out of place, the clock
on the wall reads 5:00 a.m., he turns out the lights and
slips out the back door. As he enters the alley the cool
early morning air rushes over him. He feels momentarily
refreshed by the air. He looks down both directions of the
alley behind the shop. No one about. He straddles the seat
of his motorcycle and starts the engine. A couple quick
revs of the throttle and in one fluid motion he kicks up
the stand and speeds off down the alley. He slows momentarily
at the alley entrance scanning the street before accelerating