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SR Run 2: Player's choice


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Around Denver, a small number of individuals received a private message containing information on a series of potential jobs. To prevent this information from compromising the job should someone sell out or get any of the recipients in trouble, the information is necessarily vague, containing only a brief description of the type of job and who to contact to get more information.

Available jobs(and their translations for the Denver shadow-spak illiterate) include: Helping a person move(extraction of a target from one corp and transport to a new corp), Courier(transporting a good, either through a dangerous area, coveted by others, and/or an item dangerous/illegal in and of itself), and Parcel retrieval(b&e with a side of theft).

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On the edges of some of the seedier parts of Denver lay a great many clubs, catering to both to the 'street' people who help give them their atmosphere and to wealthier individuals who want the thrills of go-gangs and wizzers, drugs and guns, but not the actual danger that would come with going deeper into the darkness. These places, built of darkness and light and those who scream eternally against both, are natural havens for the people who live on the borders of so-called civilized society. Here, the only way to seem out of place is to make a deliberate effort like you are trying to conform. One-such club, The Baboon's Backside, is neither so packed that there is a line to get in, nor empty enough to discourage people from sticking around. Glow sticks, implants, and neon tattoos flash in the erratically lit darkness of the dance floor, a frantic spasming body of flesh that seems to almost be a horror of cthonic levels to people first entering the club, until their eyes have adjusted enough to separate the dancers into individual beings trying to escape the monotony of their lives. The music is cranked up so high that it is effectively impossible to tell what it is, except that it has a hard, drumming beat.

Into this club come two trolls, an orc, and a human, all with the same goal in mind: A booth in the corner where a moderately large human sits comfortably, dressed in modern business casual and with a drink at hand.

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Essa wasn't quite certain what was being asked of her. But after Ms. Esterhouse got the milk for the puppies, Essa felt there was a debt to be paid. So when she got a message about transporting something somewhere, she was willing, if confused. A centaur explained that transport means move. But no one seemed to know what needed to be moved or where it needed to be moved to. But it seemed she wasn't suppose to know, not until she went to a meeting.

The 'club' was not a stick. Essa had washed in a stream and put on her skins. The skins were poorly sun-tanned furs that seemed to come from a variety of animals which had been crudely stitched together with ivy vines. They hung in an unflattering manner, covering her torso but leaving most of her arms and legs bare. Aside from the occasional twig, her hair was down and mostly free of tangles, though it looked to have been finger brushed at best. Her feet were bare but looked to be tough as leather. A light tracing of scars over most of her body blend in with the heavily tanned tough skin and aren't visible unless someone is close enough and observant enough. Her fingers, knuckles almost white, clutch a club of her own.

But this 'club' was loud. Very loud. And the scents were many and varied and many were foul or rotten. There were so many people around, Essa watched the front door for a long time before approaching. A large humanoid at the door seemed to have status, but Essa had a hard time understanding the social interactions of this group. Finally, she steeled her resolve and approached the door as the troll she recognized as being the one who brought the puppies' milk approached the entrance. A half smile that was more a sign of discomfort and a willingness to defend herself than greeting adorned her face. Essa's spirit wolf had told her to seek this one out, that he would teach her. She still wasn't certain she wanted to do anything of the sort, but she respected the spirit alpha and would at least try. And in this case, Essa knew she had a lot to learn. With the noise and the smell and the strange lights, she was operating blind, virtually literally. Even if he wasn't her friend, she felt certain her spirit alpha would not send her to an enemy.

A soft whine was almost unconscious as Essa winced at the flashing lights, pulling away from the mass of bodies on the dance floor. Nothing here made any sense and the half smile became a full baring of teeth. Her shoulders hunched she walked with knees bent on the balls of her feet. No matter how much the place looked only moderately busy to others, for Essa, this was a terrifying mob of para-humanity. Even she wasn't sure if her first instinct would be to fight or to flee.

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For Jeremy, a club like this was par for the course, and the low noises were not an issue. His earbuds could catch the sound well, but filter out the extreme volume for something more manageable. As he moved through the door, he saw Atsaya up ahead... was he on the job too? And- well, frak. Apparently the shifter troll girl had come into town, for some unknown reason. He felt the urge to intercept and moved in carefully.

"Hey!" It was hard with the disorienting noise, but soon, Essa saw a black-haired man, one who seemed like the scent of one of those who came with the milk. Jeremy came into close enough to speak over the noise, but not space-intrusive. "You're the girl we brought the milk, aren't you? This is a far way from the woods."

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Eyes wide, teeth bared, Essa had not expected to be specifically approached. She reminded herself that it was bad manners in para-human society to nip at strangers. Her knuckles were joined by her fingers in their white grip of death on the rough club in her hands. She blinked once as she tried to understand Jeremy's words. It wasn't just the noise of the club, but influx of so much unaccustomed stimuli slowing her thoughts as she tried to process everything that caused the delay. She noded slightly, "Yes, milk. You came with milk, fed the puppies. It was good for puppies. This is far from woods, more different than far, but far and much of different." She offered no explanation, but she wasn't asked for one and didn't understand the implied question.

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"I get something, I take something to a place. I do this because milk is debt and debts are paid. Do you have the something? I will take it now." Her hand held out rather demandingly, it is obvious Essa is uncomfortable and ready to leave.

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Jeremy smiled, despite the discomfort she was having. "Someone else does, I'm here to help move it. I know where he is though." Something occurred to him. "Hmm." He plucked the earbuds out of his ears and handed them to Essa. "Put them in your ears, the noise won't be so bad. You can keep them until we've left the club."

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The look Essa gave Jeremy at the offered ear-buds was one of extraordinary confusion. Hesitantly she took the buds and sniffed them before fumbling them into her ears. As the noise of the room muted, she almost pulled them out. So much of her ability to survive included being able to tell when something was coming by the most subtle of cues. But here, she couldn't hear anything anyway and the strange man was being helpful, so she left them in. A brief, almost curt nod acknowledged the gift. Essa still didn't quite understand the complexities of politeness. In the pack, one helped the others of the pack. Survival depended upon it. One might grovel or beg for a scrap of meat but no fuss was made once it was given. Essa could understand 'please', though it seemed very simple to her. But 'thank you' had no connotation in her world. "We find the one with the thing now?" She asked as she picked her club up again.

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LL: The earbuds have Audio Enhancement 3 and Spatial Recognizer. Once Essa gets used to them, she'll find them quite useful.

Jeremy turned and spied the human man in the suit down there. "Found him." He gestured to the feral troll-shifter girl and started directing here through the crowd to the corner booth. At one moment, an elvish woman stumbled out of the crowd, clearly synthanol drunk, and gravitated towards Jeremy. "Hey there handsome-"

"Find someone else." Jeremy immediately cut her off sharply, before turning her about and shoving her back into the morass of the crowd. He sighed before continuing to guide Essa through. "I should ask you. What's your name?"

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Essa was unsure which of the many people in the club Jeremy was referring to and so followed him with varying degrees of impatience. When the woman emerged from the crowd, moving as though to attack and smelling of rotten fruit, Essa only managed to pause long enough to see how Jeremy reacted by remembering the lessons of the Centaur who had taught her some of para-humanity. When Jeremy dealt with the woman quickly and handily, Essa allowed herself to lower her club again.

When he asked her name, Essa nodded, "I am . . ." The sound of a high wolf whine accompanied by a furrowed brow and a hand moving one of her ears in a manner similar to a canine ear laying back against its skull seemed to be her idea of a name. "Ms. Esterhouse seems to think this is not a good name. She said I should have a normal name. Father Alpha says I should call myself Essa."

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The call found Jaleena at work, a dim and insistent buzz that made itself heard through insistence alone. She wore navy blue coveralls, thick gloves and a plastic face protector, to avoid the chance of metal shards getting in her eyes.

She put down the power sander, and the barrel of the gun she had been working on, then tipped the face protector up and crossed her workshop to the vidphone on the wall near her computer desk.

Jaleena punched the 'receive' button, and a familiar image, of a stylized blue face on a black background, appeared. Jaleena pulled off her gloves and tossed them on the table. "Code Worm. To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"I've come by a possible johnson for you." Code Worm said, voice smooth and mechanical. "He's collecting runners for a job out of the Baboon's Backside on the edge of town. Here's a picture." An image of an average-looking human popped up on the screen. Broad-shouldered, though, suggesting good genetics or a fondness for the gym. "If you're interested he's doing a gather tonight. If you do attend, I expect the usual fee."

Code Worm blipped off without another word. A decent fixer, but a bit of an asshole at times. Work had been thin on the ground lately, though, and she appreciated the offer.

Jaleena packed up her gear for another day. The job involved working some words into the barrel of a knock-off Ares Light Fire 70. Neat little pistol, but boring. The ganger wanted something with a bit more style, so he had given it to her. He had wanted lines out of a prayer to some Aztec blood god. She had run into a problem once she got to work, though. The pistol had been made with a poor grade of metal, and when she went to work with the blowtorch the barrel had warped. Fixing that had taken some time, and forced her into carving rather than torching the words like she preferred.

Her shop and workshop were connected, the shop being the 'front' end of the former warehouse. Jaleena's apartment was situated nearby, too. This was her life. She had no need to be far away from it. All it took was a quick jog to her apartment to wash off and change into some night clothes.

She chose a tight white shirt that would draw some attention to her chest, simple black trousers and a dark, long-sleeved jacket. Jaleena was not much of a clubber, but she knew that clubbing girls were generally in for two things: fun and sex. Many of them would have conflated those two things into one. At least this way she would be close to looking the part.

Jaleena checked her face in the mirror and applied some basic makeup to bring out her dark eyes and emphasize the reddish hue of her skin, then applied some polish to make her tusks sparkle. She took a ridiculous amoung of care of her tusks, keeping them near-symmetrical and sharpened to fine points.

Satisfied, Jaleena headed back over to the shop and headed for her gear lockup. On the way, she took out her phone and dialed up The Jamaican. The phone rang twice before being picked up. "Skraa, cerri! You got a minute?"

The Jamaican's warm, finely accented voice came back an instant later. "Don' I always, mon? Whatcha' be wantin'?"

"I just got a call from Code Worm, says there's some of my sort o' work on the go in a club called the Baboon's Backside. Place sound familiar?"

"Ya mon. Dat place be a bit in da middle ya know? It be a t'ash club, people wit' da nuyen go dere to get a taste o' da seedier side o' t'ings. An' people like you an' me, we go dere to have a good time. Braka's kid bounces dere."

That was handy. Braka was a homely ork woman in her mid-thirties, getting old and looking it. Sweet, though, and she lived nearby. Jaleena saw her children playing in the street from time to time. "Thanks, DJ. You think it's pretty safe?" 'DJ' was her friend name for The Jamaican, and as far as Jaleena knew she was the only one allowed to get away with it. In honour of The Jamaican's accent, it was short for 'Da Jamaican'. She seemed to like that.

"Who you t'ink you be talkin' to mon? Would I have fun in a place like dat if it were safe? Not'ing worse den local gangers though. Any of dem give you trouble, jus' tell dem da Jamaican says 'hi'. Or punch dem in da face, whatever suits. By da way, Jal, how's dat order o' mine comin' along?"

"Workin' on it, DJ. You got to give genius some space, you know?"

The Jamaican laughed. "'Course I do, cerri. Now, you be done wit' da Jamaican? I got some knees to be breakin'."

She always did. "Yeah, done. See you round."

Jaleena's lockup amounted to a series of high-tech chests. When she opened one, a fold of panels unfurled like the petals of some deadly flower, revealing guns and gear cradled in different creches. She took out an extendable baton, folded it and slung it from her belt. Not many clubs would argue about a girl carrying a little protection on her.

They would have argued with her second item, though. She took out her yamaha sakura fabuki, along with its custom-built holster and arm slide, strapped it to her forearm and checked the action. All it took was a twitch of her wrist, and the slide triggered, thrusting the gun down and into her hand, the action precision-timed to put her finger on the trigger. After a couple of tests, she slide the gun back up her sleeve and checked how it looked in the mirror. No sign at all. She even did a test pat of her arm to see if it revealed itself, but it didn't. The holster had been lined with soft felt and leather so it did not feel quite so hard to the touch. Bouncers knew how guns felt, and often ignored something that felt different.

Jaleena Trevayan had stepped out for the night. Now Magnun had stepped up to answer the shadows' call.


An hour later, Magnun was crouched over her thundercloud contrail, racing through the flashing lights and dull night heat of Denver. She had switched her chameleon coating to show the image of a roaring demon on both sides of the vehicle, a design she had seen while browsing the matrix one night and downloaded for later use.

She pulled up in the parking lot of the Baboon's Backside and turned on the anti-theft system. Had to be careful with bikes in this sort of area.

Magnun headed out front, past the line of assorted clubbers waiting to get in. They were all races, all sorts. Elves decked out in fur and feathers, orks in leather and chains, humans in not much at all. You could tell the ones who belonged from the ones who wished they did, though, just by how nervous they were in the line. Subcultures built up in most clubs and this one would be no exception. The ins always knew an out when they saw one.

Fortunately, the opinion of the patrons didn't matter. Magnun looked for Braka's boy, and saw him at the door, looking bored. At least until he caught sight of her. She saw him with his family from time to time, but the were hardly friends. If they had been, the leer he gave her would have earned him some sort of punishment. Maybe a sharp call to his mother.

Magnun grinned at him, in that special way which showed off her finely manicured tusks. The boys always liked that, and this would help avoid a proper body search. "Skraa, cerri!" She cried, striding towards him, ignoring the other people in the line. Most were humans and so was the other bouncer. He could deal with his own, just like orks did.

"Hey, good lookin'!" The ork said, grinning back, unsubtly staring at her chest. "You want in?"

"Nah, I came all this way to grumoge with you," Jaleena said, shaking her hips. "'Course I do. Saw your little brother the other day. He's growin' up healthy lookin'."

The bouncer seemed to glow at that. "Damn right, chummer," he said, moving forward to give her a quick pat down. "Takes after his big bro." His hands went down her torso, all the way down her legs and back up, then over her shoulders and part of the way down her arms.

Before he reached the hidden pistol holster she said, "This some brother I never heard of? Last I checked it was you two an' six sisters."

He stopped, as she had wanted, and gave her a look of severe affront. "I don't know if I like you anymore." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Get your ass in that club before I throw you out in advance."

Jaleena cackled and headed on by inside.

Her eyes adapted easily to the darkness that dominated the interior, though her ears had considerably less luck with the thunder that masqueraded as music. She smiled. There was something about ork thrash metal that set her blood to pumping. Critics called it noise and screaming, but it was really nothing of the sort. It was a tribal war dance, a call to battle.

Good music for the shadows.

She circled by the dance floor, pausing to look for her contact.

Rolling perception to try and spot the contact in the club.

-2 dice pool for being distracted by the music

-2 for target not being in immediate vicinity

Taking Observe in Detail simple action for +3 dice

+3 dice for actively looking for target

= Perception + Intuition + a net 2 dice

rolling Int + per (4 dice) + 2 for 5,2,3,5,3,4

Meaning no hits.

Edit: I am a silly person, actually 2 hits, but I'll play it as though I got none because I finished it already

After a minute or so of scanning the crowd, Magnun screwed up her face and decided to buy a drink from the bar. The contact would be here in one of the booths. She would just have to check them one by one. Wouldn't hurt to get a drink first, though.

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Atasaya looked down at the note as he stood outside the Baboon's Backside.

I wouldn't bet on the outcome...but sometimes people just want someone to walk with. --Ester

The note had been accompanied by a small macaroon and a business card for the club. The card had a date and time written on the back. It didn't take long for Ata to put the pieces together.

He seemed a bit more together on this evening. His smell was decidedly less, if still present, and his clothes looked two shades less brown having been laundered. He was enjoying the small apartment he had procured since the milk run, but if he wanted to keep it longer than a couple months, he needed to start getting out. Omm had not kept up on his word of more work, not that Ata was surprised. So an offer of something from Esterhouse had been a pleasant surprise.

It didn't hurt that Quez had more or less ordered him here, that the next part of his journey involved the guidance of the young wolf kin. Atasaya was happy to have the next stage given to him, that his spirit walk would now have a second set of footprints, but he was unsure of what he could teach the young woman. She had not appeared to be a shaman, and more worried for her safety within the city and within the confines of metahumanity. Corporations were not forgiving entities and he feared her head on a plaque of some twisted Exec.

Come what may, his path was set. He would see this journey done or his bones would become gravel for the next wayfarer. He shoved the note and card back into his pocket and approached the entrance where the thumping base from inside leaked, setting the hairs along his arms dancing.

How one can carry on business in such an establishment is beyond me. Negotiations should not be shouted. He must be new.

Atasaya pulled open his coat and showed his lack of weapons and the the doorman waved him in without question, knowing he was better off not pissing off a troll shaman before he entered the club. "No fireworks, ya." the human stated, putting a hand on Ata's chest before he made it in.

"Of course. I seek only the revelry of the night." Atasaya replied casually, nodding.

The ork near the line nearly broke out in laughter at Atasaya's pronouncment. "Just let'm in, he ain't no trouble or ima dandylion."

Party_Till_The_Early_Light_by_YumeMiami.The human shrugged and removed his hand, allowing Atasaya to open the door and head in, his senses immediately assaulted. He took a few steps in, to clear himself of the entrance and swept the club in Astral making note of the spirits and awakened alike attracted to the place. The blantantly chromed individuals also stood out, the voids as much as a marker as the awakened were. It was not difficult to look over the crowd and see the table he wanted. The wolf kin stood out like a sore thumb amongst the drek. (Pot/Kettle) He returned to the 'real' world and began making his way in, skimming the edge of the crowd that thankfully parted for him. Before long he was standing in front of the table.

"I am Atasaya."

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If anyone wants to have a little more intercharacter interaction, I can move this post and let you do so, but now that everyone has arrived I was going to move on to meeting the Johnson. 12 edits to get the code working for this post


Atasaya gets to the booth first, followed closely by Essa and Jeremy, Magnun showing up moments later with a drink in her hand. Everyone except Essa recognizes each other, of course; their last meeting was only a few days ago. While Essa is leary of this newcomer, her acceptance by the others prevents a strong reaction.

The Johnson appears to be around 30, though appearances mean little with all of the modern cosmetic enhancements available. He is about 1.8 meters tall, and has the look of someone who used to be quite athletic but whose job involves a lot more desk time these days. He is dressed in business casual, low enough to fit in with the thrill seekers, but not so low as to seem like he is trying too hard to fit in. "Now that everyone is here, we can get down to business." He taps a small dome that is sitting in the middle of the table. At the blank looks from everyone but Magnun, he explains, "Noise canceller. Combined with the white noise from the club, even the best noise filtration software won't be able to tell what is said here."

"The job I have for you is simple enough, though there is an element of danger. You will be transporting a very toxic substance in a sealed container from the secure warehouse where it is stored to a lab that will be working with it. As long as you can keep the container safe you should be fine. I've been authorized to offer you ¥5,000 for the job."

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"How much damage could the seal take before breaking?" Jeremy asked, leaning back in his seat. He didn't know about Atasaya and Magnun, but he had decided to pay a decker 100 ¥ to do some digging. For the investment it had luckily brought up some good information, despite Cain's scowling at not being able to spend time on his precious porn.

The Johnson... in this identity anyway, was ironically named John Johnson. Shiawase wageslave who was supposed to be fair to his runners... the Shiawase part at least seemed to be genuine, according to Cain. He moved stuff Shiawase didn't move the official way. And he didn't work with newbies and unknowns usually.

Given what he knew about the Johnson, this would explain why he was sending in less known runners and newbies twofold. One, he claimed it to be easy. Second, it sounded like something you wouldn't have your own people take... but Jeremy was listening closely just to be sure. "And also, there wouldn't happen to be anyone else looking to get their hands on this 'substance' would there?"

One hand straightened out his cheap pants while his eyes remained expectantly fixed on the Johnson.

Intuition+Con (Default) for checking for the truth

Jeremy *rolls* 3d6: 4+4+5

1 hit.

for the next round of answers:

Jeremy *rolls* 3d6: 3+4+3

Using Edge, I feel this is important.

Jeremy *rolls* 3d6: 1+3+1: 5

Now I critical glitched. :P

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The Johnson replies to Jeremy, "The container should be fairly sturdy as long as you don't tamper with it. The exact nature of the contents is need to know, which you don't. I don't expect trouble enough to send a full corporate sec team with it, but I'm not going to leave it unguarded either. Some people will steal things just because they are there."

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Essa listened, not quite following the conversation, but making an effort. She had learned that new yin was useful, that there was no real old yin, and that having new yin meant being able to get things. She didn't know how much five thousand was, but she felt confident it was more than five. Five new yin could get her this amazing thing called a cookie and a cup of milk. And it seemed all she would have to do is take something somewhere. She was content with this arrangement, not having the experience to know there are questions to be asked and issues to be negotiated. But she hadn't been asked yet and not knowing which of these people was the alpha, she didn't volunteer before establishing the order of dominance.

OOC: 'I so want to ask, 5000 each?'

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Magnun did a route of the club, seeking the Johnson and finding nobody save a few orks and one adventurous human interested in her womanly parts. Early, she thought. I got here early.

There was an old saying about early birds and worms, but Johnsons were a different sort of worm. Early or late made no matter, and normally it was they who did the taking in the end.

She paused at the edge of the bar for a time, watching, studying the crowd. They hammered out on the dancefloor and pounded the ground with their feet. People flowed on and off the dance floor, heaving into the night.

Magnun thought she caught a glimpse of white, a flash of red cybereyes, steel blades popped from the hand. It was gone in a moment though, and she shook her head. Nice. We can all tell you're in good spirits, can't we?

She went to the bar. Her first drink had been water. This time she asked for whisky, without even a thought. "On the rocks," she said, shouting over the music. "Make sure it burns."

It did. Not good whisky, but good enough to make her throat come alive, and soothe the little demon in her that hated to face the world sober. Not that she intended to get drunk. Not that she had intended to drink at all.

Magnun tried to focus on the job. What job? She sighed. She had no business being a head case right now of all times. With another sigh, a deeper one, she made herself sip the liquor.

"Hey, sweetness," came a husky voice from her right side. "You sound lonely."

A male ork was studying her, with a black string vest stretched tight over taut pecs, failing to cover up the little beer belly further down. Sweat stained his brow and shoulders, and his lank brown hair. He wasn't far from her type, mind.

"Not so sweet," Magnun said, feeling the small weight of the Sakura Fabuki heavy pistol in her jacket sleeve.

"Ness, then," he said, moving closer. His eyes didn't drift to her breasts the way she intended, the way her shirt all but insisted. Rather he studied her face with the sort of intent to be expected of someone studying a painting. "You got amazing tusks, girl. How'd you get 'em like that?"

Magnun felt herself warming up a little, and moved round to his other side, so that she had a view on the club door. "Hard work, cerri," she said. "Most ork girls don't look at themselves in the mirror and seen an ork. They see a human wit' tusks." She quirked her lip to emphasize one of them. "I see somethin' a little different." She sipped her drink.

He was hooked, that much she could tell. Now he scoped her out properly, and she realized she had let it go too far. A bit of talking did no damage, but she was here for business. If she relaxed to much... well, she had ended up rolling in the hay with a bouncer one time thanks to a conversation like this. Not bad on its own, but there were times and places.

When she answered his next little probe, she slipped into full Or'Zet. His frown was almost comical, and maybe a little sad. It gave her a good excuse to look disgusted. "You don't know your own language, cerri?"

He laughed. "Hey, I'm French."

"Best walk away, chummer," she said, using the word every sixth worlder knew.

The Ork looked irritated, but he caught the edge in her voice, and did not push his luck. She helped him on his way with an angry-sounding stream of Or'zet that he probably took as some sort of insult. In actual fact it was a recounting of a recipe for a particularly tasty cake.

Across from the bar at a small table, another ork burst out laughing, and when Magnun looked over, he raised his drink to her. She returned the motion, and they both emptied their glasses. Pretending to be part of the Ork pride movement had its advantages. Not that many in Denver knew Or'zet well enough to handle a full conversation. Seeing that she could often had some very positive effects, and very few negative ones. Plus, it helped to give her a pretext to get out of unwanted attentions when she needed it.

I shouldn't be doing this. She thought, retreating within herself again, her eyes on the slow-melting 'rocks' of ice in the bottom. I should be completely sober. Tee total. Nerves of iron.

Whiskey had followed Magnun for years. Her amber shadow, stalking her everywhere she went. She knew she turned to it too often, and that fighting it had not gone as well as she wanted. This was not professional. Her mother never drank.

She had ordered another whiskey almost before she could think. Taking a deep breath, her thoughts were rudely interrupted by her looking up from the bottom of her glass to see the Johnson at her elbow, ordering a drink.

He gave a broad look around the club, seeming quite uninterested in the whole affair, then paid the bartended and headed to his booth. Magnun followed him with her eyes every step of the way. No one could see him and think he had come for fun. He was here for business.

Magnun looked into her whiskey again. She ought to empty it onto the floor. But she felt fine. Her throat was wet, her tastebuds flooded with the whiskey's warmth. Still. I shouldn't drink this, she thought, and took a sip.

She waited, keeping her pace controlled, not letting the drink take over. If it did, she would just leave. You couldn't fix a ruined rep, and Code Worm wouldn't be offended. If she turned up drunk to a Johnson, that could have long lasting impact. Her mother had made that much clear. For a Shadowrunner, rep made a world of difference.

The club thinned a little. The music softened as many of the Ork customers left, and elves and humans became predominant. Fewer of them, too, and fewer bouncers. Stereotype or no, Elves and Humans were less rowdy as a whole.

After a time, some other people arrived. Two trolls, and trolls always stuck out. They were heading straight for the Johnson, after meeting up. One of them looked familiar, she thought he might have been one of the runners who came to her shop for the milk run.

Runners, then. Time to join the party.

Magnun pushed off the bar, swirled her whisky, and headed over to the booth.

She nodded to the room as she slipped into the booth and sat down. When the Johnson put the noise canceller down, she sipped her drink. Definitely a professional type. Most Johnsons just put up with the noise.

The prospective team seemed a queer bunch, but what running team wasn't? She looked them over one by one, saw no obvious signs of insanity, over-clocked cyberware or flakiness, and so settled in. Her mother had always said that if the team doesn't pass the first inspection, it's better to walk then risk your neck.

Magnun listened to the Johnson's pitch. Simple, of course, straightforward. Leaving out all the bits that might complicate it and mean he needed runners in the first place.

Five grand, she mused. Toxic substance. Lab. Research, obviously. Weapons research jumped to her mind first, but it always did. Could be anything. And what's five grand in the era of trillion-dollar mega-corps? Still... if they wanted runners carrying it, that suggested it might be illegal. If they were caught in transit, the corp would lose nothing save the merchandise. If Corp employees got caught doing it, though, that was a whole different matter.

She let the first question be asked and answered, noted the simple, bland, corporate reply. It had the slight spice of Johnson honesty that she expected, but which said just about nothing.

Magnun drained her whisky and put the glass down. Away, tasty demon. Business time.

"Couple of points to clear up here. First, we talking five kay a piece or five split? Second, you said toxic substance. Is this an illegal substance, too? I know, I know, need to know, but this is important because we need to know if we can just wave to any Lone Star who pop on by or if we have to flee screaming for the rockies."

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"Five for the lot of you. If I had a budget for 20 k, I'd have been able to arrange security directly. As for the contents, you'll be given a permit with the package that will get you through Lone Star. Like a lot of things, it isn't illegal." The unspoken complement to that statement was that new chemicals were often not prohibited because nobody had had time to make any laws regarding them. "Hiring you is probably overkill, but I keep my job and you keep getting jobs by making certain that things get to where they need to be when they need to be there. I wanted you in particular so you could check the package and make certain it wasn't damaged in transit. If there is any sign of tampering, at all, grab a pic for proof and bring that to the lab."

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Magnun nodded. One point two-five kay a piece, then, she thought, looking around the table. Not the best, but not the worst.

The inclusion of a permit to get past Lone Star betrayed a few interesting details. First, his parent corp had influence with the local Lone Star. Possibly even owned them. Second, this was a time-limited job, and he had not mentioned that so far. Third and finally, they were expecting some direct attempt on the package.

No Corp engaged in 'overkill'. That hurt the bottom line. Nobody delved into the shadows for help without reason when they had armies of corp wageslaves. "Ok. Sounds simple enough. Three more questions, though. First is simple and I'm sure you were getting to it: Where are points A and B? We need to work out a route, unless you've got one planned. Second is likewise pretty simple: what's the timeframe? From the sound of things there must be one. Are we going to need to book it across town in a straight line regardless of risk, or can we take the scenic route? Third and final is slightly less simple. What sort of trouble are you expecting? I mean, you've gone to the trouble of hiring me, which means you know my skillset. You've said you want me on the book to make certain the package isn't damaged etc., but you know I come with firepower, too. I'm sure you could pick up a mechanic way cheaper if that was your only concern. My guess is that someone knows about this courier run and you or your bosses are concerned they might make trouble. Anywhere close to the mark, or are you really just worried that some high ganger might think it'd be fun to steal a random object with unknown contents?"

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"The less you know, the less likely you are to run into trouble. Likewise, the less time you have it, the less time there is for something to go wrong. The odds are against any companies coming after it, though that is always a risk when runners are hired. Sometimes people assume there is more to things than there are."

Rolled for all of you, only Atasaya succeeded. None of the rest of you have any idea what he means.

"As for where you are going," he places a datachip on the table, "and as for your route, I don't want to know as long as it gets there.."

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Cryptic... I wonder if anyone else understood what he meant? I don't. The numbers divided evenly didn't look too bad for him, so no issue there. The permit sounded good, Shiawase obviously making things a little easier on runners for once. That didn't count the one time Jeremy had pulled security on an extraction against the Japanacorp, and their men had been most haphazard. Time is money here, that seemed to be a message as well.

Still, he wasn't sure why them yet. Relative unknowns and new to town runners were not Johnson's portfolio. Clearly the item was legal or at minimum covered by a permit, but Johnson was in charge of transporting things the corps didn't want their own people to have on them in the event of capture, exposure, etc. Another tidbit from Cain the porn-obsessed decker. If it were valuable, runners of higher stature would be called on. It now was only a hunch... Are we decoys?

"I assume there's some way of identification so that we don't run into trouble with security at the warehouse or the lab by accident?"

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Jeremy drummed his fingers on the table for a long moment before deciding to say yes. "I suppose I'm good." He looked over the others questioningly, though he suspected Essa would say yes in a heartbeat and then some. "We good everyone?"

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Atasaya listened to the details of the run, vague as they were.

Not that anything other than vague is expected.

Corporations taking interest was true. It wouldn't matter if they were escorting sand. That someone had paid someone to guard it, and tried to do it off-record, was enough for many people to take notice and attempt to steal it. Because of this, it also wasn't uncommon for more than one package to go out, one a little more public than the other, just to detract attention. That he had been hired implied either more danger than he was letting on, or that they were possibly expecting something to come at them from Astral. Or at least covering their bases.

What it was they were carrying or how much they were getting paid made no difference to Atasaya. If it was important or they were getting raked over the coals, one of the other runners who cared for such things would speak up. To that effect, everyone appeared to okay with the payment and details. Essa wasn't really doing much of anything, but Atasaya would have been surprised if she said anything at all. Occasionally he saw her nostrils flare slightly as if she was catching a scent, but otherwise she mostly just looked out of place.

Pot & Kettle

"I am amicable to the terms presented."

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Essa was uncomfortable. In another person such discomfort might come across as antsy movements. But for someone raised wild, it was just the opposite. Essa was still, very still. Had she been in the wilds she would have blended in with the shadows, still and silent. Here she became part of the surroundings. But anyone who paid attention would notice she was readied, her weight held tight and ready to spring into action.

When Jeremy asked his question, Essa didn't respond for a moment, it wasn't until Atasaya commented that she realized 'good' was a relative term. "Essa go, take thing, move thing, go now?"

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The Johnson hands over some papers to prove their identity to the warehouse, and the group heads outside, where Jeremy leads them to an old and patched Mercury Comet. This doesn't look to be a comfortable ride for most of the group, as the Comet is not troll sized, Essa eyed it as if she is expecting it to bite her, and Jaleena seemed to be having thoughts of beating up whatever poor excuse for a mechanic patched this thing up. Still, it should get them where they are going. Getting the item to its destination would depend in large part on how big the item was.

Fortunately for Jaleena, she had her own bike waiting, so would only have to put up with being near the POS, not actually in it.

some questions in the ooc thread

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"Yeah," Jeremy admitted, observing everyone else's expressions regarding his mode of transportation with more than a little grudging admission of fact. "I know it's a hoopty ride, but it was cheap. It'll work for this." He stepped up to the car, looking it about and underneath as if there was a doubt contradicting his words, but Atasaya remembered the 'bomb' advice from the last run and realized what Jeremy was really doing.

"Anyway, I should say this before we head out." Jeremy turned back and leaned against the Comet to bring up the big stuff he'd learned from Cain, and perhaps see if this settled the question to any of the runners here. Not that Essa seemed a runner, mind you- ok, tangent. Enough.

"I had a decker do some checking. This guy has several identities... the one he used for us is working for Shiawase. Except in this case, he really does work for them. A Kambu Atsukai in charge of moving the things the mega-corp doesn't want to be moved by their people or by the usual ways. And he never deals with this kind of new or unknown a team, as far as this guise goes." He paused for a breath and then finished up. "So all I can say is, longshot guess... but we're decoys, I think."

Perception Roll

[Jeremy] 8:57 am: Intuition 4 + Perception 3 + Vision Enhancement 2

Jeremy *rolls* 9d6: 4+1+2+3+1+4+5+3+1: 24

[Jeremy] 8:57 am: wow... just 1 hit

[Forge] 8:57 am: Damon witnessed this roll, pharg.

Hoopty ride = Guess what that means... :P

Kambu Atsukai = Low-level executive

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Essa looked at the metal monster and was sure that no matter what anyone said, it was not safe. How could something she couldn't see with half her vision be safe? Besides, the only time it ever tried to 'talk' it just roared. No intelligence, no substance, bad noise, bad smell, dead metal and heat and horror. She was not getting within striking distance of the thing if she could manage it.

Now that they were out of the club, she realized she still had the strange things in her ears and took them out. Handing them back to Jeremy with a grunt of acknowledgement, she looked for a hidden place to change. She would leave her club, but the clothing would be easy enough to carry. Essa felt confident that she could keep up with the monster the others seemed to trust to take them places. And this one would be easy to keep track of as they went.

Having nothing to say, and not really following the conversation, Essa waited. At some point they would be done and they would get in the metal monster. Essa's skin crawled, if she had been in her furred form, the skin on her shoulder would have twitched like it was discouraging a flying insect. But she put the idea of riding in the iron beast behind her and went back to listening and waiting. When they left she would go to the alley she spotted and change. At that point, following would be easy.

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Magnun listened to the report on their friendly Johnson, and gave a grunt when it was over. She turned to Jeremy. "Best keep wary about our paying friends. Corps don't often gack their teams for risk of getting a bad rep, but they'll do it if it suits the bottom line, and they don't send out decoys unless they know there's trouble coming."

She looked over the 'team' if that term applied. Most runner teams she'd been on had a misfit sort of vibe, but this took it way too far. "Seems like we had best introduce ourselves now we've taken the contract. I'm Magnun, armourer by day as two of you know, and general gunbunny by night, sniper by preference. Not real appropriate for this run, though. I'll need to head back to my lockup to restock before we head out, by the way. Who are you guys?"

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Jeremy chuckled for a moment. "I think everyone has met me before some way or other. Name's Jeremy Noctis. I can't shoot guns to save my life, but my throwing weapons make up for it. Magnun knows, she makes them. And I was with Atasaya but a few days ago to give Essa milk for the direwolves."

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Essa listens as Magnun introduces herself, not really understanding some of the words, but willing to accept them. Nodding after Jeremy makes his introduction, she speaks. "Milk was good for puppies. Puppies will grow big and strong. I am . . ." The sound of a high whine with the furrowing of her brow and her hand moving one of her ears in a manner similar to a canine ear laying back against her skull filled the conversational space that would normally be a name. "I am to be called Essa for those who are not pack. I am good with hunt, not strong like alpha but can find prey and help take down. Can watch from far, can be quick, take throat without taking hoof."

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Atasaya looked calmly at the others, mentally questioning a round of introductions on the street in the middle of the night. "If you have need to stock up, perhaps we should delay the parlay until such times that we are in the more secure location." he said to Magnun, but then turned to make sure he was addressing everyone. "Distribution of information about ourselves is not something I would share with those who wait to lose themselves at the Baboon's Backside."

The shaman glanced back from whence they came, to the waiting line of people and the two bouncers. Traffic was a good noise screen, but that wouldn't stop many enhanced listening devices and background sounds could be filtered out.

"Essa." Atasaya said, making eye contact with the shifter, "You seem impatient. Let us talk on the way to the shop."

He gestured towards the car with his cactus with an inviting gesture of 'after you'.

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"While I applaud your effort to stay connected, walking across town is not acceptable, you will not be able to keep up." Atasaya said, trying to sound sympathetic. He had walked for years on his way to Denver and he still hadn't gotten used to riding around in vehicles again. This ride would mark the second, with the Milk run being his first. That this 'car' wasn't build for his size would make it all the more uncomfortable. "While in the city, it part of our responsibility to do things we would not rather do to function within the bounds of the culture."

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Jeremy sighed, looking a little embarrassed over the general reluctance to ride in his vehicle, not that he at times didn't disagree that it felt like a death trap, but... moving onward... "Well, anyone who wants to ride, I'll get in and wait for y'all to make your decisions." Pulling open the driver's door- he winced at the rust patches- Jeremy hopped in and prepped himself to drive.

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Magnun studied the feral, almost child-like troll, wondering where she had popped up from and why she was being brought along to a run like this. She scratched her head, looking around at the street and the people still lining up to get into the Baboon's Backside. She got the impression that the one who couldn't talk well intended to walk all the way. That said, there had to be more to her than appeared. Mage, maybe? Shaman? Something like that. Maybe she could walk fast.

She took a deep breath of the smoky night air, and hoped that the feral was an awful lot smarter than she sounded. How had her mother put it? Dumb runners end up dead runners? Something like that. Whoever she was, Magnun did not get the feeling of a great weight of shadow experience. On the other hand... Ms. Esterhouse arranged a run to get some milk for her pups. Esterhouse knew her stuff, and it had not been coincidence that she just 'happened' to send a bunch of runners new to the city over to Magnun's shop, and it seemed unlikely that coincidence had caused her to pick this troll for the goal. She would keep an eye on her, and keep her mind open. For now, though, they needed to get moving.

"Monsters aside," she said, looking between the two trolls since they seemed to be the caused of the hold up, "right now we're wasting someone else's time and we're doing it in full view of the public. I'm heading back to my lockup either way. You all coming back with me, or do you want to meet up at some other location once I'm good and ready?"

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Essa shrugs, "Will keep up, if not walk, fly. Will not make late, will not break culture. Will not crawl into beast. You want come with, you come with. We both fly. Then you no worry I get lost."

She didn't understand why she shouldn't make her own way, she always had. Even before she had learned how to run with the pack, she was expected to make her way where ever the pack was going. She had managed it, even as a young pup. Essa wasn't sure what it was about the metal monsters that caused her such anxiety. They were loud and full of poison gas, but that could be ignored. She had gone into the club after all. But the metal monsters . . . that was not going to happen.

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