October 17, 2011

Billie's Journal - Home for Christmas

Somewhere off the coast of Seattle, 28 / 29 December 2050

The Souix spooks grill us for a couple of days, not sure exactly how many. While they don't do more than ask questions, the sessions are long and they keep us separated. By the time they've finished with me, Billie is running the show. At one point, I hear her asking smoking woman if they are going to kill us now that they've finished questioning us. The old gal just looks me straight in the eye and asks me if that's what I want. I hesitate long enough that she raises an eyebrow before shaking my head and telling her that I just figured it was an easy out for them.

A day or maybe two later, she turns up at my tent. Somethings been building and she tells me they have found the HNLA terrorists and asks if I would like to see the operation. Like I got anything else in my agenda for the day. The rest of the team are there too. Finlay and Sharron seem subdued, Zero is still spitting teeth and the Padre at least has some colour, even if he is still bandaged up.

They have a couple of screens set up and anyone not on the mission is packed into the big tent. Most of it is army speak, but Finlay and Sharron translate it between them. There are choppers with commando's, scuba teams, the works. At one point there is the flicker of a spirit, but the souix mages have their own and the flickers disappear. I prod the Padre in his bad arm, eliciting a wince. That's what he should have been doing to protect us. He grumbles out what might have been a 'sorry'.

It's all over surprisingly quickly, the souix are ruthlessly effective. They scan their headcams over the corpses. Of the injuns, the only one we recognise is the mage, Wallace. Good that's at least one down. Unfortunately, we never did get an ID on Martha, but none of the caucasians seem to be more than youngsters, including twin teenage girls, the sort you would be more likely to see on a surfboard ad.

Still, a few less loons on the loose and they did at least recover some more of the Red Masque and some laptops that might help them track down the others. I hope they deal with the gas permanently and not just store it somewhere else for the next group of terrorists to steal. After the show, they haul us back to our tents but put us together this time.

Next day, the camp is being stripped down. Smoking woman pays us a visit, on her own. She admits that they considered just disappearing us, but given that we did stop the attack and that disposable assets are not always easy to find, she is gonna take a chance and let us loose. If we keep quiet, then maybe one day, she might have some work for us. I tell her in bad souix that I hope our paths will never cross again. She does smile at that, correcting my pronunciation and adding that she hopes I will see things differently in the future.

Then, we are escorted out to Osprey's plane and just like that we are free. Needless to say Osprey is rather quiet on the flight back. He keeps it strictly biz although when we finally touch down he does apologise and offers his services if we should need him in the future. There are some mumbled goodbyes and we walk along the beach to the waiting boat where Russell and Seaside are waiting. Russell seems genuinely concerned about us but is also quiet. Seaside tries some chit-chat but it falls flat.

Back at Seaside's place, the eagle shaman is waiting for us. She seems in slightly better shape and keeps on about the spirits being at rest. That must be good, because even though we tell her Martha is still on the loose, she still hands over the gold. Seaside tells us he knows someone who can help us move it and won't scam us on the exchange. I hand the heavy lumps of metal over to him.

Before we leave Cleo announces that she is not cut out for shadowrunning. She doesn't know what she is going to do, but she is not going back to the corp. The Padre also announces that this was his last run. Guess getting darn near killed can make you rethink your life choices. Problem is that takes us from two mages to none. Deal with that tomorrow.

I also leave my bike at Seaside's. The custom cowboy fittings kinda make it stand out from the crowd and now that we are back in Seattle, I have to worry about the yaks again.

Seattle, 10 December 2050

Seems like my commlink was on the fraz in Tsimshian. Turns out it's only the 10th of December. Unfortunately that means most of Seattle is out Christmas shopping along with me and Zero. The cowgirl look was just a bit too obvious, especially with the yaks out looking for me, so I agreed to let Zero take me shopping for a new look. Let's just say that we have a fundamental difference of opinion on what a girl should wear, and especially on how much skin it's okay to expose.

We sort of meet somewhere in the middle. My preferred baggy blue jeans are replaced with skinny black ones that sit too low on my hips for my liking and a pair of figure-hugging black leather pants that Zero thinks I have the legs for. The fake snakeskin boots are gone, replaced with a pair of combats and a pair of biker boots, both black. In contrast to all the black, several brightly colored tops, fitted shirts and of all things a red corset replace my preferred check shirts. A heavily buckled and studded combat jacket, black again, replaces my old duster. The new look is completed with a large pink, Hello Kitty purse, that I only agree to when Zero shows me the integrated pistol holster and ammo clip pockets.

Then there's a whole pile of makeup, about half of which I am not sure what it's for anymore. Billie never wore makeup as it tended to trigger flashbacks, but I think I can handle those memories now. We spend more time than I am comfortable with in lingerie stores, picking out new underwear including some to go with the corset that are more style than substance. Oh yeah and a haircut, short and spiky and you got it, also black. The latter is courtesy of Zero and a bottle of dye rather than a salon, so it's a little rough around the edges. By the end of the day I could use a strong drink, which I just gave up but am seriously thinking about going back on, when we get a call from Finlay.

Martha has lined up a serious run for us with a major Fixer. Could be the big time, but we are short a mage. So before we go meet the Johnson, Finlay has set up a meet with a possible replacement for Cleo and the Padre. For some reason, he's picked the Fenris, a Redmond rathole that is the preferred haunt of burnt out street sams. Zero insists I wear the corset. Maybe it's just because I'm distracted by the new outfit, but I don't immediately catch why he picked this particular joint.

I stuff one of the Kimbers into the purse along with a couple of clips, a few of the more recognisable makeup items plus my wallet, commlink and keys. Jamal picks us up in his cab and I spend most of my time on the way there resisting the urge to zip the armor jacket all the way up to my chin.

The Fenris is an unpleasant dive and we need to run a gauntlet of hookers who initially think that Zero is trying to steal their turf. Fortunately, they quickly write us off as slumming corpers. The stairs down to the bar are dank, smell of urine and poorly lit by a badly flickering holo. It's not much better inside. Cyber-metal rock rattles at my bones with a pounding subsonic bass. Pretty much everyone looks up at the strangers, but a quick word with the barman, a tall muscled man with a pair of matte-black obvious cyberarms gets a nod towards a booth at the back. Finlay and Zero take the booth while I squeeze into a space at the bar. I order a whisky without thinking.

An old sam next to me, halts my hand as I raise the drink. He shakes his head and shouts to the barman to get me some of the good stuff. I take a sniff at the rotgut he poured me. I've drunk worse, but not by much and the 'good stuff' when it arrives aint much better. I take a sip and leave it on the bar.

The old sam introduces himself as Wild Bill. That draws a smile from my lips. He wants to know if we're hiring.  I tell him I'm just the muscle but that I'll put in a word with our Johnson, nodding at Finlay as I do. That seems to keep him happy. One of the twitchy locals approaches the booth and speaks briefly with Finlay. I can see the big ork shaking his head but can't hear him over the thrum of the music. The local moves over to the bar, taking a seat a couple down from me and orders a couple of shots which he downs in quick succession.

A few minutes later it becomes clear why Finlay picked this bar. A clearly out of place native american enters the bar and everyone stops what they are doing and looks up. Twitchy mutters fraggin injuns and right now I kinda agree with him, but it's 7:50 and this guy is our potential magical support. I hear the owner growl at Twitchy, telling him to keep it cool and let the 'brave' attend to his business. It sounds forced and matches with something I once heard about the owner not liking the natives. Something about how he got those cyberarms.

The dude pauses in the doorway, scanning the room, then makes a decision and heads directly towards Finlay's booth. He slips in and they have a short chat. Twitchy is muttering to himself, but looks like he won't try anything. At least not while the barman has his glowing green cybereye on him.

Seems like the Finlay and the shaman come to some sort of deal, although Finlay don't look too happy about it. Injun boy makes to leave, He makes it close to the door before I realise that Twitchy is off his stool and moving after him quickly. I finish my whisky in one gulp and turn to the barman asking him if any trouble outside his bar stays outside. He glares at me, a half sneer on his lips, then simply nods.

I move, drawing the Kimber out of the pink purse as I go. Ammo count and the gun's safety status register in my mind as I follow Finlay out the door, Zero holding it open to let me go first. I hear a pair of shots and then a crunch as Finlay takes Twitchy's legs out from under him. He falls back down the stairs landing at my feet just outside the door. I bring the Kimber up and bark at him to lose his irons. Then I notice his eyes.

He's lost it or high, or both. I hesitate but Zero fires and any chance of dealing with this without bloodshed goes out the window. He twists and rolls away, so only one of her shots hits. Even that one just clips his shoulder. He returns fire, one shot at Finlay, the other at Zero. Zero yelps and dives back into the bar. Finlay just spins on the spot and then leaps back down the steps and lands on Twitchy's chest, his spear driving into the prone sam's throat and clanging off the concrete below. Twitchy gurgles in surprise as his eyes glaze over.

A handful of corp scrip keeps the barman cool, although he does suggest we find an alternative location for our meets. Suits me. The whores are gone, in hiding till things cool off I expect. Our new recruit took a hit. It doesn't look serious but as we head out of the barrens in Jamal's cab, he does some juju and heals it up. That sort of talent certainly could come in useful. Jamal drops us off at a bar he knows. It's some sort of calypso place, full of deadheads and dreadlocks. Good cocktails though, although I switch to non-alcoholic ones after the first. Finlay and new guy trade war stories while Zero gets wasted and makes a pass at the waitress. The waitress flirts back and after new guy leaves, I end up taking a taxi home on my own while Finlay 'escorts' Zero and the waitress back to her place. A typical night in Seattle.

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