Mungo racked the slide on his Uzi IV submachine gun and settled the smartlink cable into his datajack under his right ear. He looked up at “Mr Johnson”, this time a tall, hard-edged female elf, who had the vacant expression of someone on a telecomm call.
“I know,” she snapped a little louder than the subvocalization tone that she had been speaking in so far. Her voice was as hard edged as her cheekbones, which Mungo thought would be able to cut glass. He cranked up the audial enhancement on his cyberears to eavesdrop more effectively. “I know that the other team is dead,” she said, her voice lashing out, “I know that they have Hoskins in Redmond, I know that he is going to crack like a bowl of eggs and spill everything about the farm in about 10 seconds.” Her voice dropped an octave into truly dangerous tones. “You know what I am capable of, so slot off and let me do my fragging job!”
She turned towards Mungo, her grey eyes like the barrels of two cannons. Mungo could see the disdain flit across her face once again, even though she had one of the iciest boardroom stares that he had ever seen. Mungo knew what she was seeing and would not have been impressed himself. He knew what she saw was a middle aged ork, short for his metatype, 20 years past his prime, pot bellied and slow, with the twitchy stare of a BTL chiphead abuser. What she didn’t see was that Mungo was once one of the prime shadowrunners of the New York scene, and his vacant stare was one of practiced calculation rather than stupidity, that his twitchiness was permanent cyberware biofeedback dumpshock and that what looked like a dirty street trash was actually something as rare as hen’s teeth: A shadowrunner who was able to grow to old age.
What she did see that was right on the mark was a street thug who was willing to fire off a few rounds and risk his freedom for 500 nuyen.
She shed the negative emotions of the last call like a snake sheds its skin and turned toward him. Her smile made a cold chill run down Mungo’s spine, at least the parts that were still flesh and bone. He had always hated it when a Johnson smiled, it meant that something nasty had happened somewhere, or, even worse, was about to happen.
“Are you ready?” She asked, her voice as sharp a razor.
Mungo nodded his grey head. “Lead on.”
She gave him another laser look over. It was apparent that she didn’t like what she saw, but apparently it was good enough for the job tonight.
She smoothed her hands down the skirt of her charcoal grey power suit, brushing off an invisible piece of lint and strode purposefully towards the entrance to club NiceVice.
She slammed a well-manicured hand into the sticker covered door and slid inside. Mungo, now covering his SMG with a dirty armored longcoat followed inside.
The inside was a slam punch to the senses. The music was a tidal wave that crashed against the old ork, causing his hearing dampers to kick in. The cyberware was 6 generations out of date, but still functioning well, despite the staticy hum that filled his ears. Strobe lights and holo projections darted to and fro, making Mungo’s trigger finger itch as the skillwires surged data down his arm from his hot wired lizard brain.
Hundreds of dancers grated like a swarm of raving sea monkeys, glittering and tweaked out and slotted up on the latest, greatest chips, drugs and synthahol. Here and there, a hard-eyed man standing to the side or the glimpse of a chromed cyberarm led Mungo to believe that they had found Shadowrunner Heaven. Rumours on the street said that SH was the ghost of a myth of a lie, something made up to romanticize shadowrunners, but Mungo’s time on the east coast had opened his eyes. The Heaven was real. It was a place where shadowrunners could go, camouflaged inside of another bar or club or warehouse rave, to meet up with like-minded individuals and talk shop. It was a risk, getting together, as Lone Star and the corporations would love to tactically nuke a few hundred civilians just to erase a handful of bonafide, dyed in the wool shadowrunners. The Heaven moved nightly, sometimes hourly from place to place and you had to have your finger on the pulse of the shadow community to get the coordinates.
“Give me a ten count.” Mr Johnson said and stalked away Mungo could see that her suit was tailored well enough that her shapely behind was still visible.
“Three, two, one,” he muttered to himself, took a deep breath and pulled out the Uzi.
Glittering shiny ravers screamed like a collective mind organism, splitting for the exits with the speed of chemically altered teenagers.
Here and there, Mungo could see little islands in the chaos, people who were not reacting like panicked lemmings. He snatched a quick look over his shoulder and saw Mr Johnson’s laser stare.
“Big mistake, chummer,” growled a gravelly voice behind him. Mungo turned back, the sub gun carefully lowering to his side.
He could see tall, broad shouldered ork in dark shades and a military cap. He extended a beefy right hand and held a small, tubular object, which extended out into a compound longbow. He could hear the creak of the string being drawn back and saw the glinting, serrated edge of the arrow pointed his way.
The old Ork turned his head to follow the sound of muttering or chanting from his left. It rose in volume and urgency until it ended in a sharp “ha!” Mungo could make out a large shape, a troll almost hidden in the shadows. He could make out the cold, unyielding face and dark, penetrating eyes until it was blocked by something… something that was forming right before his very eyes! It was over 8 feet tall, with the head of a screaming stag, two bear like arms and a lizard’s lower body and flicking tail. It bellowed like nothing that he had ever heard before and charged towards him.
Mungo turned to bolt and found himself face to face with a man of average height, dressed in an all-black, corporate hit man action suit. Mongo looked into the flat, black eyes and knew a killer when he saw one.
“Where do you think you are going?” His voice was quiet and chilling. His hands were empty, but the gleaming, metallic knuckles sparked as 10, 000 volts surged across them, inches from his nose.
“That’s enough,” Mr Johnson’s voice cracked through the dangerous stillness. Mungo stole a look over his shoulder and saw that the monster had stopped its charge and was standing to one side, crouched and ready, its eyes never leaving the troll in the shadows. He could see a small, nondescript man standing by the door, his strange magnetic eyes half closed as if he was slotting a chip or making a call on a headware phone. One by one, his systems started shutting down, his gun registered an empty clip, his skillwires bricked out and his vison started to go dim as his cybereyes powered down.
The elf corporator looked over Mungo’s slumping shoulder at a dwarf in his mid 30s, his brown beard speckled with grey. His eyes were covered in chromed blast goggles and Mungo could see analytics scrolling across the surface in reverse.
Her eyebrow raised, a delightful arch. “Are you going to just stand there?” she asked icily.
The wall blasted in behind her, sending glass and plasticrete fragments of the dance floor. A Lone Star anti-riot drone, still glistening from the rain outside hovered in the hole that it had blasted, its miniguns tracking everything that moved. The dwarf shrugged his shoulder. “It was 4 blocks away.”
Mr Johnson smiled.