"Shadowrun Duels: Datafile [ I ]"
A Shadowrun Novella in Five Parts
In the first part of this five part 28,000 word novella find out how the characters of Shdowrun Duels met and what they got up to on thier first run into the shadows...
What is Shadowrun?
"It is the latter half of the 21st century. Magic has returned to the world, awakening powerful creatures of myth and legend. Technology merges with flesh and consciousness. Elves, trolls, orks and dwarves walk among us, while ruthless corporations bleed the world dry. You are a shadowrunner – a mercenary living on the fringes of society, in the shadows of massive corporate arcologies, surviving day-by-day on skill and instinct alone. When the powerful or the desperate need a job done, you get it done... by any means necessary."
Shadowrun is a science fantasy setting based in a near-future universe in which cybernetics, magic and fantasy creatures co-exist. Thematically it combines the genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction.
What is Shadowrun Duels?
Shadowrun Duels was a collectible miniatures game produced by WizKids back in 2003, set in the world of Shadowrun.
Unusually the Shadowrun Duels 'miniatures' are big 1:12 scale action figures each with a separate base that has three Clix dials. This twist on their single dial Heroclix range allows the figures to take damage in one of three areas (Head, Weapon, or Body) as they fight during the game.
A clever multi coloured dice based mechanic also allows for a level of roleplaying to be easily included in scenarios along with multiple options for different equipment and weaponry that can be chosen from before each game.
//Begin Datafile 1.1//
> I was working the door at a seedy little place in the Puyallup Barrens called the Glass Cockroach when the call came in from Tony the Tiger. Sure, I usually bounced at some of the city's more upscale clubs, namely Club Penumbra and Dante's Inferno, but on occasion, I like to go back to my roots. So once a week, I man the door at one of Puyallup's seediest dives. It not only lets me keep in touch with a different class of people than I get to mix with at my other jobs, but it also provides me with some exercise and usually a little sparring practice.
Tony's a good guy, a fixer friend of mine from way back. I make it a point to know just about everyone in the biz, and he knows it; so when a Mr. Johnson comes to him looking for a shadowrun team, he comes to me. This call was no exception – he had a line on a job. No details, which was standard for a corporate Johnson, but he wanted to meet up with a small team tomorrow night. I can always use the cred, so I told Tony to make the arrangements.
I met with Mr. Johnson at one of Tony's back tables. He was finishing a plate of pasta as I approached the table. He motioned for me to sit, and I took a moment to look him over as I did so. He was the typical Mr. Johnson: black suit, nondescript, calm. The only odd thing about him was a small pin with a stylized dragon on it. I considered that pin for a moment, then shrugged it off. This J may have been a Saeder-Krupp employee; he might work for a couple different crime syndicates; or it may have been a magical charm. Dragons made popular symbols these days.
He nodded to a nearby waiter, who brought over a glass of wine for me and refilled Mr. Johnson's glass. Tony was watching us from the kitchen door, and he gave me a nod as I took the glass, letting me know it was fresh and not something Mr. J could have tampered with. I smiled and took a drink, though wine wasn't my usual preference. He offered me dinner, but I turned it down, interested in getting down to business.
The job, Mr. Johnson told me, was a simple one. There was a scientist who worked for Ares. Mr. J wanted this person to, as he put it, "no longer be in Ares' employ." In fact, he continued, his employers were interested in providing this scientist with a job. Was I interested in the run? He was slick and used a number of euphemisms to describe the run, and he referred to me as "Mr. Dogg" several times, much to my annoyance.
I sat back and thought about it. An extraction can be tricky. You not only have to worry about your team and the opposition, but you also have to keep a noncombatant safe. Difficult business, especially because corporations were loath to let their employees go. I already knew I was going to take the job, but I appeared to mull it over for a couple minutes, taking a couple slow sips of wine. Finally, I nodded and named a price. It was high and, as expected, caused the Johnson to hesitate. To be honest, I inflated my opening price a little due to the "Mr. Dogg" comments. Much to my surprise, though, he nodded after a moment and agreed to my fee.
"Meet me here, tomorrow evening at 8:00," Mr. Johnson told me after agreeing to the price. "I will provide you with the final details of the job. Your target will be working late tomorrow, and I would like you and your team to retrieve him for me before he leaves work." So that was why he agreed to the price so readily. A rush job. Still, the pay was excellent, so I agreed to his terms. Mr. Johnson left, but I stayed behind to have some dinner and make plans.
Choosing a team can be difficult. You must decide what talents you need while balancing the personalities of those involved. Some shadowrunners simply won't or can't get along, and the last thing you want is for your team to break down and start fighting each other in the middle of the run. For instance, my first choice on a run would have been Lothan, a troll mage who helped break me into the biz. Lothan is a powerful mage, but his arrogance doesn't sit well with his fellow runners, and he prefers to be the one in charge. Finally, after a good deal of consideration, I put in a call to three other runners, figuring a team of four could do the job Mr. Johnson wanted without too much trouble.
A spell slinger is essential on most jobs, so I called Liada, an elven street mage that I've worked with on a number of jobs. She was reliable and knew what she was doing, though she could get a bit preachy at times. She has a hang up about the environment and how metahumanity is trashing it and the future. She's probably right, but I'm more worried about number one than the environment.
Along with magic, you need tech. I debated between a decker and a rigger, but finally decided on a rigger because we wanted someone on site who could handle security as well as pull his weight in a fight. Silver Max was a dwarf I'd worked with once before, and he always had a couple drones at his beck and call, so I knew he could hold up his end of the job.
Finally, more muscle never hurts, so I called up Karkhov, a street samurai I knew. Hell, Karkhov was probably the only sammy I knew that actually lived up to his name. He lived by some kind of crazy Japanese code of honor that he picked up from his mentor, a former Yakuza soldier. Still, he was deadly with his swords and could hold his own in a fight.
I told each of them to meet me at Tony's a little before 8:00 the next evening, and prepped them on the job when they showed. Promptly at 8:00, Mr. Johnson showed and we had a quick powwow as he gave us the final details of the job. Everything went smoothly, but as we headed out the door, Mr. Johnson pulled me aside to speak quietly in my ear.
I gave Mr. Johnson a grim look and nodded. I didn't necessarily like it, but I understood all too clearly.
> I'd never admit it to him, but G-Dogg's call couldn't have come at a better time. The jobs haven't exactly been thick on the vine lately, and even though the Tarot readings have been keeping me in soy and out of the rain, a little extra cred would go a long way toward making me feel better about life in general.
G-Dogg's handling the details, which I'm fine with – he's good at what he does and not likely to screw over the team. We go way back, G-Dogg and I – met him when I showed up at Club Penumbra a while ago for a meet and he turned out to be not only the bouncer but also the guy setting up the job. We work well together, so he usually calls me when he's got something that needs a little magical punch. There aren't too many chummers out there I'd say I trust as much. It's just the reality of the biz: You have to watch out for people, even if you think you know them. Most of them will screw you over if they think they can get something out of it. It's bad enough when a Johnson does it, but if you can't trust your teammates you can end up in deep kimchee. That's the way it should be, though—if you can't take care of yourself, you shouldn't be running the shadows. You learn one way or another. If you're lucky, you stay alive until you get smart.
I'll have to take G's word about the other two he's tapped for the job, since I haven't worked with them before. One's a dwarf who goes by Silver Max – a pretty good rigger from what I've heard. This other guy, Karkhov, I haven't heard as much about, except that he packs a couple of wicked blades and has a thing for protecting the helpless. Even though that category definitely doesn't include me, we could do a lot worse. It's always a little hairy working with new teammates, so one less guy I have to worry about stabbing me in the back is a good thing. And hey, at least I don't have to deal with that gasbag Lothan. I know he and G-Dogg go way back, but I don't like playing second banana.
The run looks like a pretty standard extraction. The meet with Mr. Johnson went down tonight at a local bar and the details look straightforward: Break into an Ares compound, grab a particular scientist that Mr. J's people have developed an interest in, and bring him back safe and sound. He wants this to happen tonight – short notice, but nothing I haven't done before. Just means less time for advance legwork.
Johnson himself is intriguing. I wasn't the only one of us checking out the dragon pin he wore on his lapel. Couldn't identify it. It didn't look like Saeder-Krupp, but I haven't heard of another corp that uses a dragon as a logo. Ah, well – it's Johnson's business, not mine. As long as his cred's good, that is. Still, I couldn't resist a little astral recon, so while Johnson and the guys were hammering out a few of the finer logistical details, I settled back in my chair for a little nap and let my astral form float free of my body.
The pin's not magical, or else it's masked. Johnson himself shows up mundane as a rock, and just as cyber-free. The guys – well, don't talk to me about that tech they put into their bodies. I know it's necessary for what they do, but it's still a sickening affront to Nature. The important thing is, nothing looked out of the ordinary. I couldn't sense any deception or obvious bulldrek jobs coming from anybody, and this made me feel better. I didn't stay long in the astral, since I got the feeling G-Dogg was covering for me so that Johnson wouldn't notice.
When I got back, they'd just finished up working out the details. Johnson took G-Dogg aside to have a few words with him. I could have listened, but that's where that trust thing comes in. G's running this show – let him handle the nitty-gritty. I'm here for the mojo.
I sat there, waiting. Max fiddled with his toys and couldn't sit still, while Karkhov might have been a statue for all he moved. Strange guy – looks like a lot going on behind those eyes.
Ah, here comes G. Looks like it's time to roll.
> Mr. Johnson. Well, hell, just about every Mr. Johnson makes you want to count your fingers after shaking hands, but this guy . . . he felt like a handful of smoke. There was nothing of substance about him. Hagakure (the book of the Samurai) tells us that “merit lies more in dying for one's master than in striking one's enemy,” but this was a master I had no interest in dying for.
G-Dogg, the ork who had brought me into this run, was a different case. Big, friendly, open – except when he was the bouncer at Club Penumbra or the Inferno. Then he was subzero, especially with the ultrarich posers slumming in custom tailored street grunge. I liked G-Dogg.
I wasn't as wild about Liada. Oh sure, she was easy on the eyes, but what elf woman isn't? And it's always a plus to have a spell worm with you, since the opposition may have them. It wasn't that she was exactly bad, you know? I'd heard from a chummer that she dropped cred on some tree hugger group – so she saw a bigger picture. It was just that, well, I'd also heard that she “cut corners.” Story was that for a particular run she'd come up with some dirty tricks that were really nasty – and she never batted an eye. People who are good at backstabbing make my shoulder blades itch. I'd watch her.
The rigger, a dwarf called Silver Max, seemed okay. Had lots of little tech things he seemed to be constantly fiddling with. He also had a pretty good rep and, hell, he'd made enough to keep up a supply of gadgets, so teaming with him sounded like a good idea.
//Begin Datafile 1.2//
>I don't like to go on either blind or short-notice runs. Without at least a rudimentary plan, things can go horribly wrong. I have the proof of that attached to my back, where, after I was shot during a run, a set of cyberware and prosthetics has my spine rewired to allow me to walk again. Now, I like to make sure I know what I'm getting into. To that end, I put in a call to a decker I know, Jackie Ozone, and she quickly turned up a set of blueprints for the facility.
The Ares compound was pretty standard as far as corp facilities go: a small set of warehouses, a set of on-site housing for the full-time scientists and other important employees that Ares didn't want wandering off on their own, and the main building itself. All this was surrounded by flat, open ground for several hundred meters, making it nearly impossible to approach the facility unseen by security.
We gathered outside of the perimeter and looked over the map, deciding that the best point of entry would be a loading dock on the west side of the main building. I sent Liada off to do an astral recon of the area and had Max send his drone out to scout the physical security. Both returned and confirmed that the facility was heavily guarded physically, but to our surprise, it had no magical wards or guards. I was glad to hear this – it made the job much easier and freed up Liada to help deal with the physical security.
I split up the group, figuring it would be easier to sneak through the killing fields surrounding the compound. I sent in Liada and Karkhov by themselves, knowing that Liada's magic and Karkhov's stealth would allow them a decent chance to make it in undetected. I knew that neither Silver Max nor I were very stealthy, so we went in together. This way, if we got jumped, we could cover each other.
The dwarf and I made it as far as the outer parking lot when a pair of security guards came around a parked semi, surprising us. We stared at them for a second, then pounced, hoping to knock them out before they could alert the rest of security. Max sent his drone to take care of the first, and I dived at the second, tackling him before he could reach his radio.
I struggled with my guard as he tried to simultaneously grab his gun and his radio. I growled and bit his left arm, causing him to lose his grip on the radio, and then I kicked him away. As he pulled his gun, I swung my shotgun up by the barrel, and the stock caught him under the chin. I followed up this maneuver with a fist to the jaw and a second punch to the side of his head as he reeled back.
The guard collapsed to the ground, and I looked over to see Max standing over his guard, a couple of neuro-stun darts sticking out of the man's neck. I nodded, and we tucked the guards’ unconscious bodies under the semi and hurried to rejoin the rest of the team.
>The Ares compound was your basic corp facility – a big perimeter fence surrounding a wide swath of cleared land (otherwise known as a killing zone), with the actual buildings nestled snug and protected in the middle.
Trouble is, there’s no such thing as “completely secure,” especially not when a well-prepared team of professionals wants whatever you’re keeping inside. It’s like a chess game – the suits set up what they think is adequate security, and the shadowrunners figure out how to get around it.
Silver Max and I got recon duty: He sent out his drones around the perimeter while I sent my astral form inside to make sure they didn’t have any magical surprises waiting for us. All in all, security looked pretty ordinary; they had some big dogs out front, quite a few security personnel, and some automated defenses, but no signs of much magic. The others looked relieved when I reported this – I’ve noticed a lot of mundanes react that way, and I guess I can’t blame them. Guns and guards they can deal with, but magic is still a little alien. Meanwhile, Max reported back with the guards’ patterns.
G-Dogg gave the word, and we headed in. The perimeter lights were bright, but they didn’t cover the whole area equally, so we had a few places to slip through. Once we were in, I nodded to the others and moved off, summoning my on-call spirit to protect me as I crept across the cleared area. Thanks to Max’s heads-up, the spirit and I made short work of the guard rounding the corner by the door. I grabbed his keycard from his belt and slid it through the reader, and I was in.
It wasn’t long before we were all back together and contemplating our next move. G-Dogg silently indicated the right way, and we moved off in that direction. I dropped back toward the rear, keeping an eye out for possible pursuers.
Damn good thing I did, too, or I wouldn’t have seen our tail. She was good, I’ll give her that. Just not quite good enough. As the slender Japanese woman slipped around a corner behind us, I was waiting for her. I quickly alerted the rest of the team. Whoever she was, she had some explaining to do. “Why were you following us?” I demanded.
I didn’t like the way things ended up, but I got outvoted. Turns out she’s a Yakuza by the name of Kyushi, and apparently Karkhov knows her. At least, he stuck up for her when she invited herself along to our party. I didn’t think we should trust her, but like I said, I got outvoted. It didn’t help my cause when, in the middle of talking to us, she suddenly whipped out a knife and flung it past G-Dogg, nailing a guard before he could betray our presence. After that, the discussion seemed to be over.
The lab where the scientist was supposed to be wasn’t far. It wasn’t even locked. The geek looked surprised to see us – he was sitting at a lab table, fiddling with something that looked like an old-fashioned CD in a holder. Wait a minute – no, that couldn’t be . . . could it?
>Because we all had different strengths, there were several ways to approach Ares. The little recreational playground that Ares had for their on-site elementary school would probably provide easier access to the complex than blasting through the front door.
I had no sooner hopped the fence and drawn my swords when I was jumped.
The monster flew at me out of the darkness. It nearly broke my arm as it threw its massive, runaway–freight train of a body into me. The yelp as it split its scalp on my short blade was the first sound it made. I slashed back and forth with my primary as I scrambled to my feet and confronted my assailant.
It was a Bullmastiff. This square-headed monster was two and a half feet of muscle, and more intelligent than a lot of corpers I’ve seen. (A chummer of mine is still in the slam because he ran into one of these guard dogs. It knocked him down a dozen times and then fastened its jaws around his wind pipe until its minder showed up with the cuffs.)
The Bullmastiff shook its head to prevent the blood from running into its eyes, but it never removed its focus from me. I stopped swinging my sword, and the dog immediately launched itself at me. If I hadn’t been so pissed off at myself for being surprised by its first attack, I might have appreciated how the dog never barked or lost focus but simply waited for its chance to do its job. Soul of a warrior.
As it was, I instinctively thrust into the dog’s throat and nearly broke my wrist trying to hang on to the sword while the dying dog and gravity tried to pull it away from me.
Before I could catch my breath, another Bullmastiff came flying at me. I spun and ducked, freeing my blade from the dead dog while lopping off the ear and part of the scalp of the second. As I did this, a third monster sailed through the space I had just left.
This was getting out of hand. I turned as if to run, and then I quickly spun with both blades at different heights. When I finished the spin, another attacker was dead and the third was missing a limb. I delivered the coup de grâce and headed inside.
>And you thought you would be my knight in shining armor, Karkhov? I will be certain to thank you for your generosity when next we meet.
>Hey, next time I’ll just let them shoot you down. No skin off my nose.
>Do not misunderstand me, Karkhov. I am grateful for your attempt at intervening on my behalf. I simply feel that you underestimate my own role in the proceedings.
It is true that you encouraged the others to accept my presence, but they could hardly have done otherwise. While they had been fortunate enough to escape any obvious notice by that point, they hardly made a difficult target for surveillance, as my own presence can attest. To take the action required to divest the group of my presence at that point would have only made them more of a target, not less.
I chose to accompany the group for my own reasons, but I believe it does not flatter me too much to conclude that my skills were already evident, given the ease with which I followed the group unobserved. It was barely a challenge to remain in the shadows while the rest of you barreled through.
In any event, the guard’s untimely appearance during our discussion was certainly not a problem. I can safely assert that those who doubted me before ceased to do so after I removed the unwelcomed interruption. G-Dogg’s amazement at the speed with which I dispatched the interruption – with no inconvenience to the group or threat to our mission – was most gratifying. I can assume only that he has had few dealings with my employers, though perhaps he might find their managerial methods little to his taste.
In short, most shadowrunners – barring the obviously unprofessional actions of a few – can see a profitable and practical arrangement when it is presented appropriately.
>You barge in on a run uninvited and have the gall to call me unprofessional?
>That was a sweet shot, lady. You’ve got reflexes to spare. If you need extra work again, give me a buzz. I can probably hook you up.
>I am grateful for your kind words, G-Dogg, though my skills are merely competent. Still, if I am not otherwise engaged at the time, I would be quite interested in any offers you might have.
>Can we get back to the story now, if you’re done arranging your next little barbeque?
>Much of the anger directed at Kyushi was because nobody likes being ghosted. I understood and even agreed that uninvited watchers are bad news on a run, but I’d worked with Kyushi before.
//Begin Datafile 1.3//
>We made it into the facility with relative ease. Liada and Karkhov had encountered resistance on the way in, but because the alarms hadn't sounded, it meant they were able to deal with it quickly and silently. Max tapped into building security to fool the cameras so that we could move around unseen. Things were going smoothly, which made me nervous. I don't like chaos and problems, but at the same time I expected them.
We dodged patrols twice as we worked our way up to the third floor, where the target was supposed to be working. When we arrived, we found him right where we were told he would be: seated on a lab stool, hunched over a workbench. In front of him were several microscopes and other lab equipment that I didn't recognize. He didn't hear us as we walked into the lab because he was intent on studying something: a flat golden disk about 10 centimeters across that was resting in a case on the bench.
"Dr. Stolling?" I asked, startling the scientist. He jumped and spun around, and his eyes grew wide as he saw us standing there watching him.
"Wha – what do you want?" he stammered, his voice scared. I almost pitied him. "You're not supposed to be here! I'll call for security!"
"No need for that, sir," I said in a calm, soothing voice. "We're here with a 'job offer,' if you take my meaning. We're escorting you out of here."
"What? But I . . . My work . . ." He was at a loss for words. He knew what was happening, of course. Extractions were standard business these days for the megacorps, but that often didn't make it any easier to deal with when it happened. Plus, in the case of an unwilling extraction like this, the target never knew if his next job would be an improvement or not.
"Look, Dr. Stolling . . . " I began, but was interrupted as klaxons sounded around us. Frag, the alarm had been tripped! "No time! You're coming with us."
I grabbed the scientist and took a step toward the door when Silver Max looked up from his remote control deck, his eyes wide.
"Drek! We got problems, G," the dwarf growled. "We got guards converging on our location. A lot of them."
Seconds later, the door of the main laboratory burst open and a half dozen security guards poured in. The air sizzled as Liada tossed a spell at one, and I could hear gunfire from the others. I sighed and made an on-the-fly decision that I knew no one would like. I hadn't filled them in on the little extra mission parameter Mr. Johnson had whispered in my ear, as it was one I'd hoped wouldn't be necessary. I also knew that both Liada and Karkhov would have problems with it. With only a second to act, and knowing that the scientist would only slow us down, I raised my shotgun and shot the target.
I could tell the others were pissed, and as we dropped the last guard, questions started flying. I ignored them as I headed out of the room. We had a job to finish and explanations could wait.
>Frag, frag, frag! Why is it when things start to go to drek, everything has to go at once?
Everything was fine. We were in. We found him, right where he was supposed to be. We were about to grab him and get out when the klaxons started going off all around us. The sound was deafening, but I couldn't cover my ears – not with all the Ares guards converging on our position. How did they all get here so fast? It was like they'd all been lined up outside the door just waiting for the signal. Somebody double-crossed us. My eyes darted madly from one teammate to another, looking for the traitor, but there was no time. "We have to get out!" I yelled, preparing a spell to take out some of the guards.
Karkhov made a lunge at the scientist, grabbing him by his upper arms and reeling him in. He started for the door and almost made it when a thunderclap of gunfire split the air and the scientist collapsed in his grip, spraying blood all over the front of his armored vest. Behind him, G-Dogg held the smoking shotgun, looking resolute.
"What the frag did you do that for?" I screamed at the ork, dropping another group of guards with a spell. My head hurt from slinging the mojo, my ears hurt from the alarms, and my whole world had just gone crazy in front of my eyes. Diplomacy was not my strong point at the moment.
>"Did you think he set off the alarm?"
Instead of answering, the big ork kept booking for the exit.
"Did you see a holdout? Was he going for a weapon?" I asked, but I'd been there and I hadn't seen any weapon. G-Dogg, who I was beginning to think of as Mad Dog, just kept moving.
I could see he wasn't going to answer me till we got outside. This only added to the slow burn that was building up inside me.
Don't get me wrong; I do what the job requires. Never had any problem with that. But I've never iced a fragger for pissing himself and doing what he was told.
I could see that Liada, too, was pretty pissed about G-Dogg using his shotgun to paint the wall "helpless geek red," but I suspected in her case it had more to do with some other plan for fraggin with Ares than out of regard for a code of conduct.
What really ticked me off in the end was not what the Dog had done, but what I was doing. Despite the alarms, lockdowns, and pursuing sec forces, and the fact we were all running for our lives, I wasn't focused on escaping or concentrating on surviving, but trying to figure out why a team member had iced an unarmed science wonk.
How stupid was that?
"A true warrior lives in the moment of battle. His focus admits no distraction."
As deeply as I knew the Hagakure was right, I found my mind filled with questions.
>Regardless of whether the scientist needed to be killed or not, the deed was done. Recriminations gained us nothing, and the guards were fast approaching. Liada, G-Dogg, Karkhov, and Max were focused on their disagreement. It was a useless quarrel, as it could not be settled here and only served to make us a more vulnerable target.
In the rear hallway, the lights in the halls pulsed out of sync in red and white with the blare from the klaxon: an attempt to disorient intruders. I followed the others as we ran, pistol drawn and ready. I had scarcely taken two steps out of the office when a deafening roar came from behind us. The mirrored glass windows on the other side shattered, spiderweb fractures blossoming around fist-sized holes. The second wave had arrived.
Max set his drones to guard the rear while we ran ahead. G-Dogg picked him up so that he would not slow us down while running them remotely. We had cleared the first length of hallway when we heard the door to the scientist's office slam against the floor. Max muttered something, and the sounds of a firefight broke out behind us.
We made good time down the two flights of stairs to the security door, but the building was in lockdown. The fire doors would not budge for anything less than explosives – which we were sorely lacking. Max could crack the maglocks, but it apparently meant letting the drones go. G-Dogg told him to go for it, and we prepared ourselves to hold off the security force as long as we could while Max got to work.
The security forces made good time to our position. Max had scarcely cracked the case when they set up positions at the far end of the hall. In an action I found confusing at the time, they did not immediately use their most-lethal attacks. Instead, the officers set down a hail of suppressive fire. I heard the pop of a canister in between bursts, and I realized they were going to use a gas grenade. I took a deep breath as a metal canister rolled to a stop a few feet from our position and a noxious yellow cloud poured forth. My eyes began to water, and I thought we were surely captured.
Of course, I was unfamiliar with Max's skills at that time. A half-second later, the indicator light on the maglock changed from red to green and the door popped open with a whooshing sound. The acrid yellow cloud rolled out the door as the fresh air entered, and we all ran for the exit and cover of darkness.
>Poor Dr. Stolling. A man who could not make a quick decision if his life depended on it . . . which it did.
>You're not helping, Midnight. Of course, that's about par for the course for you.
>It wasn't my job, Karkhov. Ergo, not my problem, either. If you run with a group that doesn't have a backup plan, whose fault is that? Not mine, certainly.
See, I was all ready to do my part and snatch the disk – that lovely, golden disk with the inscribed symbols. Hard to miss, really, looking like someone's magical idea of an obsolete computer storage device with mystic decorations. My employer was very interested in the item, as I'm sure you can understand.
I had my hiding place all set, up above the ceiling panels in a nicely reinforced area. Spyware rigged, I had a bird's-eye view of the whole scene through the air-conditioning vent. I was keeping an eye on Dr. Stolling long before you arrived, and I was still there while you were running with Ares's little junkyard dogs at your heels. Security doesn't chase what they don't see.
Once the dance was over, I removed the panel and lowered a rope down to the floor. The mess was substantial, and poor Dr. Stolling was considerably less attractive than he had been in life. Still, his work area had escaped most of the damage. I crept over and began searching through the debris. Imagine my surprise when the disk the good doctor had been working on was not to be found. I was less than pleased, I can assure you. I had no intention of either letting hours of cramped muscles go to waste or of disappointing my employer.
I searched high and low, even patting down the pockets of the corpse. The disk was missing. I could have done a more extensive search, but it would have been pointless. It simply wasn't there, and it didn't take a thaumaturgical genius to figure out how it had left the room – or rather, who'd picked it up as they left.
I pulled out the cell phone and dialed the contact number of my employer. It was the last thing I wanted to say, really. Nobody likes to report that things are less than satisfactory when money's on the line. Still, you don't stay alive by sparing your employers the bad news. They always find out anyway. I told him that something had gone wrong and that the extraction team had the disk. The pause was deafening, but I waited it out. Nothing screams nervousness like rushing to fill in the gap when your boss is quiet. Eventually, he said the fateful words: "We'll just have to take care of them."
The rest . . . well, I'll let someone else take over from there.
I found this fantastic Shadowrun Duels story tucked away on he old Shadowrun Duels Yahoo Group. It was seemingly written way back in 2003 and I have included it in the 2021 Advent Calendar without permission from the author as I failed to track them down. It was first published on Orcs in the Webbe on as the tenth entry in the 2021 Advent Calendar.
Shadowrun Duels is now out of print but the figures can be found every now and again on eBay, alternatively you can use any number of near future or sci fi miniatures to represent Runners in your games of Shadowrun.
The Shadowrun Duels rules including Jeremy Schwennen's expanded Shadowrun Duels Reloaded can be found in PDF format here on OITW.
For anyone not familiar with Shadowrun there are a variety of places on the internet you can learn more, one of which is the game's Wikipedia page here.