November 21, 2010

Billie's Journal - Stuffer Shack

Seattle, 15 December, 2050

Winter arrived while I was lying in bed, doped up on painkillers and antibiotics, as my injuries slowly healed. You would think that getting shot hurt the most. But that's a short sharp pain. Bones knitting back together, especially ones reinforced with plastic is an agony that seems unending.

Finlay has been great. I think he feels responible for our well-being. He's been cooking up chicken soup by the gallon. Well, when I say chicken, I mean chicken flavoured soy. But it is hot and drives out the cold, and even though he practically had to spoon feed me the first couple of days, it made me feel better.

And whether it's the drugs or the fact that the feds freed the senator's daughter and all those other girls, I have been sleeping like a log. No bourbon required to drown out the nightmares.

As the physical injuries heal and I can slowly hobble from my bed to the sitting room on my own, it feels like my mental wounds are also on the mend. Not healed, not by a long shot. Hell I'm not sure if that is even possible, but they somehow feel less raw. Zero even catches me smiling and humming an old country and western number at one point. She asks me what I did with the real Billie.

After a couple of weeks, I manage to do some light exercises with Finlay. He laughs at me when he sees me working out with weights in both hands. I sometimes forget that my right arm just needs charged. In fact the new arm can easily lift twice what my left can, well unless I kick in the magic.

We have been keeping a low profile since we got shot up during the extraction. Hell, Zero has even taken a temp job at some jap corp. She tells me they can be real unfriendly to non-japs and seem to think that metahumans are second class citizens. I wouldn't put up with that sort of crap, but I guess she just likes being around people more than I do.

She has also made a new friend, another corpsec called Catherine. They have even been out clubbing together. In fact, they are going out again tonight. The rest of us haven't been invited. I guess Zero wants to keep her corpsec and shadowrunner lives separate.

I've just settled in front of the trid with my first drink in nearly a month when Finlay shouts up to me. Apparently Jamal, our fake Jamaican taxi driver has a couple of open spots for a poker game and has asked if we are interested. Hell, I've been going slowly stir crazy here so I jump at the chance to get out.

Even though it's cold and wet we take my bike. Like me, it could use some exercise. Finlay's big ass means the Harley is sitting low on its shocks, but his weight gives some extra traction. I open her up and she responds like the thoroughbred she is, hauling us through the rain and traffic with a deep, satisfying roar that you can feel in your guts.

We are about halfway to Jamal's place when my phone buzzes. I take the call, easing off on the gas and steering with one hand. I can barely hear Zero's voice over the rain and the purr of the engine. But I get that she is in trouble. I pull over as she whispers an address then tells me to pretend I don't know her before she hangs up.

The address if for a Stuffer Shack not far from where we are. I spin the bike round and open the throttle wide. I let the rev counter creep into the red as we tear across the barrens, dodging through traffic and leaving a trail of spray and honking horns behind us.

In less than two minutes we arrive at the place. I let the bike's revs drop to a low rumble as we drive past the store. Several bikes sit outside, marked with the same gang colors. Not good. I find a quiet spot to park and drawing the Deputy, we make our way quickly but quietly towards the store.

Through the rain slick window, I can see that things are much worse than 'not good'. There's a big dude with a combat shotgun stuffed in some fat mama's mouth. Behind him I can see Zero and another woman huddled on the floor.

There's a guy near the door with an SMG and another one is using a long blade to undress a trembling checkout girl. I whisper what I can see to Finlay as he draws his spear and moves towards the door.

There's a ding and he's gone before the door is fully open. The kid with the SMG doesnt even have time to react. Hell, I can only watch in horror as Finlay takes the kid's head clean off with one powerful sweep of the spear's bladed tip.

As my reactions catch up, and believe me I'm no slouch in that department, Finlay is already moving towards the guy with the blade. I spin inside and spot the dude with the shotgun across the store. My revolver comes up and I take the shot. The heavy caliber round should have taken his head clean off, but he must of moved at the last moment or something, because it only grazes the side of his head. The scary part is that he seems pretty unfazed for a guy that just got shot in the head.

There's a roar of fire as he opens up. Fortunately I don't see what that first burst does to the fat woman's head till later. Even more fortunately as the gun comes up to bear on me, that first burst gives me enough time to get the frag out of the line of fire. Stone chips shower me as the heavy slugs tear into the wall where my head was a fraction of a second earlier.

A women screams in anger, rushing at Finlay with her gun blazing. Luckily for him, her shots go wide, just tearing up the cans and packages on the shelves and displays. Then two heavy pistol shots to the head take her down from behind. Zero obviously has her new Glock with her.

Finlay makes short work of knife boy, the spear's length giving him a significant edge over the ganger's blade. I put another two shots into shotgun dude, but he just fragging shakes them off and returns fire. I barely make it into cover, the heavy bullet rounds ripping chunks out of the store's plascrete walls as I duck.

I move further into the store, using the shelves as cover and picking my way carefully around glass and spilled liquids. Finlay goes the other way. Hopefully we can pincer this guy before he can get us in his sights. Shotgun dude blindfires a couple of bursts through the racks of shelves and I also hear more shots from Zero's gun.

Taking a chance, I step out from behind the shelf. Shotgun dude is right in front of me. He's not even looking at me. Instead he's got the shotgun pointed squarely at Finlay's head. I let my magic do it's thing. The revolver comes up smoothly, almost like it knows what it's doing.

Time slows. I can see the fragger's finger tightening on the trigger, but I have all the time in the world to aim and fire. Unlike my previous shots, where range, cover, armor plates and sheer goddamned luck kept them from doing any real damage, this one is dead center on his head. It tears through his ear and into his brain, the metal plates bonded to his skull keeping it from going clean through. He manages to mutter a surpised frag, then his knees go out and he topples back. Lucky for Finlay he doesn't reflexively pull the trigger.

We check on Zero and her pal, playing ignorant but turns out its all in vain. Zero tells us later that Catherine, or Cleo as she wants us to call her, had overheard Zero's call to us and put two and two together when we turned up a couple of minutes later.

Finlay groans. Seems one of those big shotgun rounds clipped him. I grab a medkit off a shelf and a bottle of bourbon out of a shot up cabinet. The owner of the joint, a dwarf, is badly hurt. But he waves me away as I try to help him, telling us to get clear as the Star are on their way.

We book and find a quiet alley where I patch up Finlay. It's not a bad as it looked. Either his armour took the brunt of the impact or his magic heals him faster than I thought. Wish my powers were more like that. While I can ignore pain to some extent, I don't heal as fast. I think he got the better deal.

We're both too wired to go back home, so we continue onto Jamal's. It's good that we do. He has some premium weed and his girl makes a damn fine mojito. Helps that Jamal somehow got hold of some real Jamaican rum to put in them. Finlay's injury is obviously bothering him and his game is off. He ends up owing us all, but we're only playing small stakes. The booze and the weed help take the edge off and when we finally do head home, I drive a lot more carefully.