"Shadowrun Duels: Datafile [ IV ]"
A Shadowrun Novella in Five Parts
Find out how the characters of Shadowrun Duels met and what they got up to on their 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 4.1//
> At this point, those of you keeping score at home are probably wondering who the drek these other runners are and why they’re there – unless, of course, you want to trust Miss Midnight’s “interpretation” of events.
I didn’t fragging think so.
Being on the other side of this little fracas, I can offer some insight into this situation. It seems that Mr. Johnson was playing both sides of the fence. After he found out that G-Dogg’s group had taken the disk, apparently Mr. J called on a few other runners. Mr. J gathered The Street Deacon, Draven, Kross, Wolf Nev, and me for the job – a heavy helping of muscle ranging from style to brute force, with a dollop of mojo to round it out.
The Street Deacon is certainly the most stylish of those, if a bit eccentric. Between the white face paint, cyberhands, and religious bent, he comes across a little harsh, but he gets the fragging job done, whether with his shotgun or vibrosword.
Draven is an interesting sort, as unique in his own way as The Street Deacon. He’s a dwarf who has conformed to stereotype so far as to don chainmail and a helmet: He looks as if he’s right out of a high fantasy trid show. He’s a smooth operator, though, sure with a blade and one of the faster dwarves I’ve worked with.
Kross has to be one of the most – dapper, for lack of a better word – orks I have ever met. Despite his polished manners and tailored suit, however, he’s one tough customer, either with his fists or guns.
Wolf Nev rounded out the muscle for the team, but because Liada has already described the troll’s more wonderful attributes, let me simply agree that his breath really does smell like drek.
I hesitate to comment on myself, as I might be considered biased, so I will merely state that I am an eagle shaman from the Navajo lands of the Sioux Nation.
The J said that G-Dogg and his group had gone rogue and stolen something that was his. He wanted it back. Although he seemed somewhat “off” to me and the job was not the type I prefer, the pay was good. Being the professional – if crude – runner that he is, Wolf Nev asked if the Johnson wanted the other runners left alive. After all, if you aren’t getting paid to do wetwork, spirits know there’s no bottom line in offing anyone. The J’s answered, “They are bugs.” Wolf, apparently considering himself quite the wit, countered with, “Consider them squashed.”
G-Dogg’s team actually made for a fragging interesting target because they were a much more balanced team than ours was, able to complete much more varied tasks. With the balance of muscle on our side, however, I was relatively confident we could defeat them and retrieve the disk without too much trouble once we found where they were laying low. This would normally be quite a bit of trouble, but having worked with a number of them previously, it was easy to whip up a Spirit of the City to aid my Ally Spirit in finding their hidey-hole relatively quickly. We set up a neat ambush around the warehouse, but held off when my Ally spotted a pair of runners atop the roof. When Karkhov attacked Midnight and they crashed through the skylight – as Midnight did a wonderful job of describing – we decided that we had found the distraction we needed to get the drop on our targets.
Stealth, unfortunately, is not Wolf Nev’s strong point, and it took a bit longer than expected for us to get into position. But it did allow us to make an appropriately dramatic entrance. . . .
//Begin Datafile 4.2//
> The Street Deacon and I circled each other warily. My blades were sharp as razors but the hum coming from his blade set my teeth on edge. He seemed in no hurry to fight; instead, he cat-footed around while studying me.
“Boy,” he said, “I’ve come to end your wicked ways. You’ve done wrong, boy, and I have come as an instrument of divine justice.”
“I’ve got your ‘boy’ right here,” I said, and lunged into a horizontal slash with my katana. I expected a block or a retreat. What I got was The Deacon jumping straight up in the air over the cut and coming down with a two-handed overhead smash that would have left me in two pieces had it connected. I threw up my short blade to block and then cursed as the sting from the vibration numbed my hand.
I circled away, shaking my left hand to try to get rid of the numbness. I knew that if I blocked with my short blade again I’d probably end up taking a dirt nap.
“You’re fast, boy,” The Deacon said, “but you’re not guided by St, Michael, as I am.”
He feigned a slash and then quickly lunged to skewer me with the point. Instead of moving out of range I moved in, letting the vibroblade slide along my katana while slashing with the short blade. My wakazashi was aimed at his neck, but his dodge was quick enough that I merely knocked off his hat and glasses.
I wished I hadn’t. His eyes were insane.
“God wants your life, boy,” he said with a grin.
This clown was not simply talking this divine retribution drek: He really believed it. The loon was in the throes of some kind of religious ecstasy and I immediately changed my tactics.
“The warrior in a state of muga mushin is the most dangerous opponent,” Toda sensei had said. “No self, no mind means he will take a blow to kill his adversary. When you recognize this, you must adapt. Use all your skill to disarm, for an enemy in this state cares nothing for his own survival; he is completely focused on your death.”
My target now became the fingers, hands, and arms holding the vibroblade. I needed to get the weapon out of his hands before he sacrificed himself while making me a head shorter.
“Stand still, boy, and I will send you to your maker,” he said as he came slowly toward me. I swear his eyes glowed
“No, thanks,” I replied.
I then tried something that showed just how desperate I was. I raised both blades as though I were delivering a pair of overhand chops, took a step forward, and threw my wakazashi in his face. Religious ecstasy or not, The Deacon threw up his blade to deflect mine, and as he did I slashed the back of his hand
Luck must have been with me because he let go of the vibroblade and the fire went out of his eyes. But while I paused to think about my next move, he planted his size 12 combat boot in my breadbasket and sent me flying across the room.
As I tried to get my breath I saw The Deacon calmly wrapping his hand and retrieving his hat and dark glasses. I guess it was a draw.
> I heard, rather than saw, the crash as the second group of intruders entered. I drew my pistol and rubbed savagely at my eyes, trying to clear the afterimpressions away. Like a glowing curtain being drawn aside, the images from the flash faded to reveal a group of four runners standing before me, including one I was particularly surprised to see.
“Kross.” His name hissed from my lips. He heard it and smiled, baring his tusks and looking pleased with himself. I had to let him go once. This dishonorable pig of a Mafioso would not escape my wrath this time. He nodded at me in return, making a lewd gesture and spitting onto the floor. Each of his companions picked one member of my team to fight, and we had settled on each another.
Kross held the largest heavy pistols he could carry, and yet his hands still dwarfed them. I fired first and grazed his shoulder. He was an easy target as he stood there, facing me square on with no thought to his own safety as he concentrated on killing me. His eyes glowed as he fired, his bloodlust evident to anyone who saw him. It was disgusting.
He strode toward me as he fired. I tumbled away, springing back to make a harder target as the concrete exploded below me, shrapnel slicing my legs and arms as it flew past. I turned and ran for the wall, only to hear his laughter behind me. He had no idea what was about to hit him.
When I hit the wall, I didn’t slow down; I raised my feet and ran straight up, then pushed off, sailing back over Kross’s head. As I flipped, I had both guns blazing, firing a hail of bullets down on him from above and behind. He cried out and cursed, and I knew I had hurt more than just his poor excuse for pride.
When he turned to face me, he was bleeding from at least three wounds. Being an ork, though, he was still standing and in relatively good shape. One of his arms hung at his side, though he still could clutch the pistol in that hand. I was disappointed not to have made more of an impression, but at least I ruined his suit.
He saw my expression and looked down at his clothes. A look of mad rage crossed his face and he screamed curses at me. “You Yak slitch! I’ll see you dead!” He rushed at me then, forcing his arm up despite the pain, and fired. The bullet hit me, knocking me backwards, head over heels. I came to a stop face up in the center of the room, eyes open and gasping for breath. My flak jacket had saved my life yet again.
I lay still, pretending to be more badly hurt than I was. He did not see blood, but he would have to come closer for that. He knew the shot was not good enough to kill me in itself, so he walked over, breathing heavily and muttering to himself, ready to render the coup de grace. I waited until he was a few feet away, then I rolled toward him until I was at his feet, the barrel of my gun no more than two inches from the crotch of his designer pants.
“Let’s see who laughs last now, pig.”
> While Kross and Kyushi were pounding on each other and generally demolishing the entire area with their firepower, I was in the middle of a classic matchup – magic versus technology, a debate had raged since tech caught up with Awakening.
The Street Deacon had chosen to go sword to sword with Karkhov; the mobsters were trying to geek each other; Draven decided to try G-Dogg; Wolf Nev wanted to hit something that would leak blood instead of oil; and Madame Midnight had fragging disappeared. That left me to deal with the rigger, Silver Max. I would have much preferred to test Liada’s skill at weaving mana, but I really didn’t want to get between Wolf Nev and his chosen target. I almost pitied the pretty little elf.
Silver Max is as good as his rep, I’ll give him that. As soon as the others squared off, he sent three or four drones swooping out around the interior of the building to distract me and feed him data, and then tried to corner me between his Fichetti Security and a single larger drone. I knew that I was in deep drek if I let them catch me in a crossfire, and the smaller drones certainly weren’t helping. They apparently didn’t have the armament for a stand-up fight, but then again, neither did I. With a thought, I sent my Ally Spirit winging through the warehouse to find the other drones and keep them busy, and then focused my attention on Max and the larger drone.
I knew I couldn’t hide and wait this one out, since one or two of Silver Max’s smaller drones would surely evade my Ally and spot me. I had to act fast, and in order to win, I had to find the weak link – man or machine. The drone floated by, and I threw up a Shape Earth spell, the floor of the warehouse protesting as the earth beneath the concrete reared up to intervene between me and the drone. The flash of pain as mana surged through me told me what to target: Whether it is enhanced by magic or by metal, the human body will always be the weakest part of the equation.
With that in mind, I twisted the mana holding the earth and sent it rippling toward the small vehicle. Max had to pay attention to the drone then to keep it from being overwhelmed by the sudden wave of dirt. At that moment, I was able to get a clean line of fire to the dwarf. A single Stunbolt later – like I said, no wetwork unless I’m being paid wetwork prices – and the rigger was unconscious, his drones sinking slowly to the floor as their input cut out.
> I'd say that things were looking bad again, but that would be more than a little redundant. Besides, it hadn't really stopped being bad at any point, so I guess it wouldn't be entirely correct, either. Regardless, we had managed to take down Midnight after she confessed that we'd been double-crossed by Mr. Johnson. Big shock there. Then we'd found ourselves surrounded by a group of runners, ready to clean our clocks.
"Umm, guys?" I said rather lamely as I reached down for my shotgun, which I had dropped when Midnight's flashpak had gone off. "Can we talk about this?"
"Get them!" Wolf Nev growled, and his team rushed us. I took that as a “no.” I dove for my shotgun.
A dwarf named Draven slammed into me as I grasped for my gun, knocking me away from it. I rolled to my feet as he lofted a wicked looking axe and grinned down at me. I knew Draven pretty well, as he was an old running pal of Lothan's, and I knew that he was darned good with that axe, even if he did look like a reject from a Tolkien sim.
Unlike most dwarfs, he embraced the fantasy stereotypes of his race, wearing chainmail armor and a horned Viking helmet and carrying an axe. It made most of his opponents underestimate him, but I knew better. I leapt back as he swung his axe again, drawing my knife. We circled each other warily as other battles raged around us.
"What do you guys want, Draven?" I growled at him as I ducked another swing. I lashed out as I did so, causing the dwarf to retreat a step or two. I had longer arms, but he had a longer weapon, so we balanced out.
"We want the disk, G-Dogg," he replied, watching me closely for an opening. I feinted to the left, but he didn't fall for it, swiping at me as I tried to dodge right. I fell back again. "We're getting paid a lot of money to bring it in."
"That thing’s nothing but trouble," I panted, ducking again. I winced as his axe caught my left shoulder, and swung reflexively. I was rewarded by a grunt as my blade sliced his arm. "We've been on the run almost since the moment we took it."
"Then give it to me and walk away," Draven replied, stepping back slightly, watching me. "I'll call off our boys. We want that disk. No one said we had to kill you to get it."
I thought about that, and took a moment to look around. The fighting was brutal, but it didn't seem my side was winning. I sighed and stepped back from Draven, keeping my blade up.
"A deal? We give you the disk, we walk." I told him. "No harm, no foul. You take the disk back to Mr. Johnson and he stops hounding us?"
"Deal, G-Dogg. On my honor." Draven replied.
"You haven't got any, you greedy bastard," I told the dwarf sourly. "But I know all your hangouts. Double-cross us, and I'll make sure you go down before I do."
I turned to call my people off, and Draven did the same. This fight had cost us a lot, and now it looked like we wouldn't be getting paid; but at least I was still breathing. That was something.
> Words to live by: Never fight a troll, unless maybe you’re another troll. Even if you’re packing plenty of magical punch, a troll’s going to pound you at close range until you can’t remember your own name, let alone how to form the pattern for a spell. I speak from experience here, kids.
Wolf Nev was smiling at me, all bad teeth and eyes twinkling with the kind of malicious glee that’s usually reserved for sadistic slots who pull the heads off puppies for kicks. “Now it’s payback time,” he growled, following that up with a fist bigger than my head. I threw myself sideways – that probably saved my head – but he still connected; my left shoulder lit up with white-hot pain and I felt bones grating against each other. I clamped my teeth together and forced myself not to cry out. I was not going to give him the satisfaction.
After that I didn’t have much time to think. I acted on instinct, because I knew if he landed too many more of those, I wasn’t going to be worrying about the disk or anything else. I danced backward, trying to get far enough away from him for a moment’s concentration to form a spell, but I guess he was smarter than he looked because he stayed right on me. Another meaty fist slammed into my side and I staggered, tasting blood and feeling hot tears of rage and pain running down my face. In my peripheral vision I could see that I wasn’t going to get any help from my teammates – they were all in the same boat, each one squared off against somebody else on Wolf’s team. I threw myself backward again and Wolf waded in, feinting left and then smashing my knee with one of his enormous boots. “See how you like that, slitch,” he said, satisfied as my leg gave out and I rolled desperately away. “You shoulda thought of it before you fragged up my payment for haulin’ yer sorry hoops in.”
Think, Liada! Concentrate! I desperately forced myself to focus. Blood ran down my forehead from a gash Wolf had opened up, and every movement lit fire in my bruised and battered ribs. He was going to pound me into a pulp if I didn’t do something soon. This strategy wasn’t working. I had to –
Wolf’s massive boots came down on either side of me, his hands closing around me so hard I could barely draw a breath. He raised me high over his head and held me there like he was considering whether to squeeze the life out of me or fling me into the warehouse’s dilapidated machinery.
I took advantage of his hesitation, knowing it would be my only chance. I closed my eyes for a moment, ignoring my pounding headache, the bleeding, and the broken bones; all that mattered was the spell. Just the pattern. Just the power . . . there! I had it! My eyes flew open and I gripped Wolf’s hand fiercely, barking out the Sperethiel words of the spell. Arcane energy flared around us. Something inside my head exploded.
I was falling.
Before I blacked out, I had the satisfaction of seeing Wolf topple like a cut tree.
If I was going to die, at least I was going to take the sonofaslitch with me.
//Begin Datafile 4.3//
> That mage chickie may not have anything else going for her, but she sure has a strong right hook. I wasn’t expecting anything that effective from her. I won’t make that mistake again. Unfortunately, I still didn’t get the disk.
I’d closed my eyes during the flash so I didn’t have to worry about being blinded. No one else did, naturally, so I had a couple of minutes to get the disk and run. Unfortunately, Liada’s blow hit me harder than I was expecting. I got dropped back on my hoop and everything slid sideways for a second. By the time I recovered, Liada was clutching that damn satchel tighter than a ghoul who’s been given a fresh peopleburger for free. My head cleared, but there was no way I could get it away from her before the others could see again. I was so not a happy runner right then.
As it turned out, though, it was just as well. I heard a commotion outside the warehouse doors. Since I hadn’t clued Ares in on their position this time, it seemed a given that the mysterious “other team” was on its way in. I scrambled over to a corner behind some old rusty machinery and settled in for tonight’s exciting episode.
I no sooner got some cover before the door flies open and in stride five of the tougher names in the business, ready for action. First is Draven, the nominal head of the team. Looked freaky as hell in that chainmail and horned helmet get-up, but I’ve seen worse on the club kids.
He was followed up by that crazy preacher sammie, The Street Deacon, and Kross, the ugly ork Mafia enforcer dude all dressed like he was going to dinner instead of a job. The two of them already had their guns drawn, so it was obvious they meant to get straight to business. The Sioux shaman followed right after; Natokah was his name, and he didn’t look any less willing to duke it out than the others. Probably had some magical drek floating along with him. Last, of course, was Liada’s troll bosom buddy, Wolf Nev. I didn’t remember him being one of the party before, but it didn’t surprise me that he might have joined up after he lost out on collecting the bounty for Liada’s perky little elven hoop.
They’d no more than entered the warehouse than the drek started flying. Each of them seemed to have a target in mind already: Draven went for G-Dogg, Kross and Kyushi started after it, Natokah approached Max, and Wolf Nev made a beeline for Liada and the satchel. Karkhov was back up again at this point, and The Street Deacon headed straight for him, vibroblade in hand and the wrath of God on his lips. I didn’t envy him that fight.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t jump up to help, the answer is that I’m not a straight-up fighter when I can avoid it. Besides, I still wanted to bring back the disk myself. I still had a shot of making this all come out right for me, and I wasn’t about to blow it by getting my hoop handed to me or by crossing the other team.
As it happened, the battles were nasty, brutish, and short. Kyushi filled Kross with holes, who in turn shot her and sent her head over heels. I still don’t know why she isn’t dead. She in turn tricked him, giving him a choice between her death or keeping the family jewels intact. I think she would have clipped him if Draven and G-Dogg hadn’t struck a deal. Kross is lucky she’s so big on that whole honor thing. If she valued her associates any less, he’d have been singing with the choir regardless of what he did to her. She wasn’t happy about being called off, either.
Max sent his drones after Natokah, who had a tough time of it until he managed to put Max down. No Silver Max, no drones to worry about. The Street Deacon and Karkhov were dueling it out like a bad ninja sim-flick, with no quarter on either side. It looked like it was going to be extremely nasty until Karkhov clipped The Deacon across the hand, forcing him to drop his blade. Like magic, The Deacon backed off and it was over. Bizarre.
The battle I was most interested in, however, was the one with Wolf Nev and Liada. They were closest to me, not exactly by coincidence, and I was hoping I could find a way to get the disk while they were otherwise occupied. As it happened, I got my shot – though it was luck more than anything else.
See, Wolf Nev was not just setting out to get the disk; he was ready to pound the elf into a thin coat of floor wax. He did hit her once or twice, and I could tell it really hurt; she was weaving badly there for a moment. I had considered maybe helping her out, but before I could act, she got her drek together and cast the mother of all spells. I could feel the hairs on my neck stand up, that’s how powerful it was. It took Wolf down in a single shot, but it took her down as well. That’s when I got my chance.
Everyone else was still fighting at this point, so I figured I wouldn’t have a better opportunity. I snuck out from my hiding place over to Liada. She was still breathing despite the blood on the floor, so I figured she’d be all right. I let my fingers do the walking over to the satchel, slipped the disk out, and took off over to the window next to my hiding place.
Of course, the two leaders were working out the terms of surrender (the disk for their lives) at this time, so I was cutting it closer than I realized. I’d made it out the door and down the alley when I heard G-Dogg yelling my name, a touch of anger in his voice. I couldn’t really blame him, but it’s all part of the biz, right?
So once I put enough distance between myself and the warehouse, I pulled out the cell and dialed up Mr. Johnson.
“So good to hear from you, Midnight. Do you have the disk?” His voice was pleasant, even exuberant. I hoped his good mood would result in a bit more pay.
“I do. Where should I meet you?” He gave me the location, and I grabbed my cycle and headed over. It was a shady part of town, but these things don’t usually happen at the Ritz-Carlton. I probably should have expected something was going to go wrong, given the history of the run thus far, but . . . well, hindsight’s 20-20 and all that.
So I pull up in front of this dark office complex with a little half-mowed park in the middle. I walked into the park, which consisted of a little grassy hill, a couple of hedges, and a few benches. Mr. Johnson was standing by one bench with some muscle discreetly off to one side of the park, pretending not to exist.
“I’m so pleased you were able to retrieve this for me, my dear.” My skin prickled at the words “my dear,” but I didn’t pay enough attention to it.
“I’m glad I was able to bring it back as well, sir.” I pulled out the disk and handed it to him. He fingered it lovingly with a strange glitter in his eyes. He turned, set down his briefcase on the bench, and then opened it. His back was to me as he fiddled with the casing for the disk. “I’d like to settle the question of payment now, sir. Given that the events of the evening were in no way my fault, and that I restored the disk to you above and beyond the terms of our contract, I’d like to ask for an additional percentage.”
He chuckled then, with his back to me, and nodded. “Don’t worry, my dear. You will certainly get what’s coming to you.” He turned then, and the moon came out from behind the clouds, glinting dully off the barrel of the pistol he was now holding. A flash of light flared from the muzzle with a loud pop. Blinding pain flared in my chest, and I could feel the world slow down as I dropped to the ground. Small details loomed large now – the smug grin on Mr. Johnson’s face; the odd dragon pin on his collar; the moon, red as blood as it hung in the smoggy sky. As I hit the ground, my vision went dark around the edges. My gaze wandered to the brightest thing in the area: the lit Ares corporate symbol on the wall of the building.
Fraggin’ Ares. I should have known better than to work for a company that would rip itself off. Someone laughed and the sound felt like a hammer against my skull. I took one deep, painful breath, and then everything went dark.
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 Advent Calendars without permission from the author as I failed to track them down. Part IV was first published on Orcs in the Webbe as the ninth entry in the 2023 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.