Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Into the Network

In the background the 2020 computer geek film “Into the Network” played out on an antique flat screen TV, the then teen actor (who recently celebrated his 68th birthday) tapped a couple of keys on his keyboard and with the aid of computer graphics was literally sucked into the Matrix… Internet, Screech mentally corrected himself. He watched the film out of the corner of his eye, knowing every line and every scene inside out. As a child he would watch this and other films of the genre avidly. He was destined to take up a career with computers though his chosen route isn’t quite what his mother intended.

Watching the rushing effects of the actor zooming down the information superhighway Screech turned back to his own keyboard. He didn’t need the manual interface as he was also jacked in but there was something tactile about the keys that he liked. Letting his eyes fall to where his fingers danced across the keys he smiled. There was something entrancing about the keystrokes, and you could be more expressive on a keyboard that the standard mental commands.

With a flourish he stabbed at the Return key, and thousands of terabits of information flowed into his memory drive. He watched the flow of data for a few moments to ensure that no anomalies or nasty bits of code were being run, it all seemed clean so set his own analyze program to watch the rest of the transfer. He was getting paid for this chunk of data but that didn’t mean he should sit there like a plum doing the job a line of code was capable of doing and squander the opportunity of a broken node. He drifted off to have a look at what other tasty information sat in the datastore. He wasn’t disappointed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Debrief

“So, talk me through what happened.” The man asking the question was human, tall and well built with a clean shaven head. His white shirt was unbuttoned at the top and bore a dragon motif on the left breast.

The man he addressed wore a dark blue swat style uniform, though there was no identifying mark other than the yellow sergeant stripes on his shoulder. He let his salute fall sharply to his side before he began. “Sir, after allowing Kirby to return to his apartment we set up drone only close obs. We hoped he would reveal the location of the missing medcase. After an hour or so some wannabe shadowrunner team turned up. Finding him couldn’t have been too hard, Kirby wasn’t that discrete about his presence in town”

The bald man nodded “Choosing him was a mistake. Okay, go on.”

“This runner team had a half baked stakeout before they proceeded to shoot up the neighbourhood. They took out Kirby’s sentries with some stun rounds but I think there must have been some confusion in their team regarding the level of force as some were using lethal ammunition.”

“Were your team observed?” the bald man asked.

“I don’t think so, not at that moment. After a shootout that lasted about ten minutes these runners managed to take Kirby alive and retreat back to their safehouse”

The bald man scratched absently at the back of his neck and found his own RFID tag embedded under his skin.

The sergeant continued the debrief “we activated the tracker tag after we had lost visual on Kirby. It was a risk but this runner team didn’t look too switched on, and we tracked them to a safe house only a couple of blocks away.”

The bald man grinned “It seems they made it easy for you. Any metahumans?” he asked.
“Sadly no sir. These wannabes were a disgrace to the true race.”

“Shame.” He gestured for the debrief to continue.

“We followed them to their hide and started with a personnel lead surveillance as the drone was stranded a couple of blocks away. This seemed to spook them and within a short time they made attempts to move Kirby. At some point in this move Kirby tried to break away from them and we were forced to go live to eliminate him.”

The bald man scrutinised the face of his soldier before nodding his approval.

“Rounds were exchanged between the running team, one of my men is in critical condition at Southpoint.”

“My personal physician will be made available to him if it will help” the bald man said.

“Thank you sir. I will inform Southpoint of your offer.

“At some point during this exchange the running team were able to snatch Kirby and evacuated from the scene.”

“He escaped?” The bald man arched his eyebrow.

“Not exactly sir, it seems the running team bungled the job and killed him at some point during the escape.”

“Interesting” Steepling his fingers the bald man let a grin roll across his mouth. “The case?” he asked.

“Sadly sir this has not turned up during our investigation. Though we continue to follow lines of enquiry”

“Thank you sergeant. You are dismissed.”

The sergeant snapped a salute out before sharply marching out of the office. The bald man waited for a few moments after the door clicked closed before making a comlink call to a very dear friend.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bad news.

Monaco hung up the comlink to Bullet. She pinched the top of her nose and closed her eyes as an exasperated sigh escaped from her throat.
Looking out of her tall bay windows across the city she dialled the Mr. Johnson.
“They killed the target.” She told him bluntly. No point in beating about the bush.
“I’ve heard better news.” He replied. “The contract is scrubbed then. Any explanations?”
“Nothing that won’t sound like an excuse. I picked the wrong team, that’s all.”
“Okay. Fair enough.” He paused for a moment, clearly thinking. “Sounds like you might have a team better suited to another task I have”.
Monaco allowed her eyebrows to arch in surprise. She didn’t expect to be being offered another job on the back of this fuck up.
Mr. Johnson laughed as he read into the pregnant pause. “There will be penalty clauses this time Monaco. I don’t mind using your gun-ho runners, they might even prove to be better suited to this task but if they fuck up this time…”
Monaco winced. She had been stung by contract clauses once before and it cost her dearly but she was over a barrel now. Take the job and redeem herself as a fixer, or ditch the job and lose face.
“I’m listening” she replied, though she knew there was little room to manoeuvre, this time the Johnson was calling the shots.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Monaco loved meetings with Mr. Johnson’s. The pair of them sat there in their Mortimer suits sipping designer coffee, smiling their poker smiles, talking in riddles. There was a certain charm to the manoeuvrings of corporate types that reminded her of the courtiers in the Tir.

What he was saying without directly saying it, was that he wanted to employ a team of Shadow Runners to track down and bring in a man, forcefully if need be, who was probably somewhere in San Francisco. His reasons for wanting to remain at arms length from the kidnap were all too obvious, the last thing his corporation would want, is to be seen involved with activities like this. What she couldn’t yet determine was why they wanted him.

Sliding a couple of images of the man across the table, the Mr Johnson answered her unasked question. Stills from a closed circuit monitoring feed showed a man in a leather jacket smoking a cigarette, the distinctive logo of the Haloweeners biker gang clearly on his sleeve.

Smiling still she agreed a fee, took the photos and left the Mr Johnson to pick up the tab at the coffee shop. She knew a few people who would find this line of work just what they were looking for, and was dialling the first number before she was on the sidewalk.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A New Dawn

The four men before him were sat in the four closest seats on the same side of the of the long conference table. The CEO of New Dawn let out an unpleasant sigh as he levelled his gaze at each in turn. His temper slowly grew and he found his rage intensifing as he looked at these incompetent men who sat dumbly staring, awaiting his wrath.

Surging to his feet with unnatural speed he stepped around his desk and smashed his fist with a force that belied his elven frame into the face of the closest of them. The rest mutely stared on as he stood over the Ork he had lashed out at, his fist wet with blood from the ruined nose.

Seemingly satisfied that he had rendered the man unconscious he looked up at the next closest man who was also an Elf like the CEO. In a disquieting voice he said “You tell me that you are part of the cause, that you are with the New Dawn, yet you allow breaches of this magnitude to go on.”

The elf stepped over the prone form of the Ork and walked to the next man, a dwarf. Standing behind the seated man he rested his hands reassuringly on his shoulders. Looking upward toward the high ceiling he let out a long breath through his nostrils while he massaged the dwarf's muscular neck with more force than was pleasant.

“You know how sensitive our work is.” He continued while his thumbs worked and dug into the flesh of the man's neck “You know that there must be utmost control on the information we allow out. Yet here you are before me telling me that we have lost something that could alert the world to our work.”

Slamming a firm pat onto the dwarves shoulder he walked to the next man, a human.
“I believe that you are directly responsible for the third circle member who has allowed this breach of security. Is this so?”

Nodding quickly he answered “Yes sir, and I will ensure he is…” but he was cut off with a shushing sound from his boss.

“What do we know about the situation?” the CEO said as he moved back to his chair at the head of the table “Is this simply misplaced or is it a theft?” These questions were now being directly addressed to the only human in the room, the others relaxed a little, the ork remained unconscious.

“Sir, we don’t know at this time. We believe it is theft”.
“By whom?”
“Again sir, at this time, we cannot answer that question.”

The dwarf spoke out now “We can assume that it has been some kind of inside job. No one on the outside knows of our activities. There is someone within the circles who is less concerned with the overall goal.”

The elf at the head of the table nodded slowly before posing the rhetorical question: “less concerned, or less aware of the importance of our work?”

Turning his attention back to the human the he continued. “Find me the culprit, and find me the missing equipment, or you will find yourself on the thin end of my patience.”

With that he stood and walked out of the room, leaving his council to sit in silence.


Except for the security guard on the front desk, Dr. Brightling was the last man in the building. He always worked deep into the evening and tonight was no exception. He finished his writing and carefully placed his old fashioned paper notebook and fountain pen into his briefcase.

He slipped off his lab coat and exchanged it with his heavy fog coat on the coat hook. Dressed to face the bitter cold outside he headed to the elevator. Te light in his office dimmed automatically when it detected the doctor's RFID tag had left the room.

“Goodnight Dr. Brightling”, Guss, the security guard offered in his usual monotone voice. Dr. Brightling, as always, just nodded.

Outside, he strolled across the near empty car park to his car. In the morning he would be a rich man and he allowed himself a smile. As he drew closer to his car it detected his RFID signature and the engine automatically sparked into life.

His phone rang. He brought up the ID of the caller into the corner of his iris and seeing who was calling, allowed the image to overlay across his vision. The caller's semi translucent image gave the impression that he was stood directly in front of the doctor despite his continued walk across the car park.

Taking his cue, the Heavy pushed away from the wall that he had been leaning against and strode purposefully across the car park. Taking one last drag, he flicked his cigarette to the ground while reaching with his other hand into his half unzipped leather biker jacket. Closing the distance he brought the old style Roomsweeper out and up to aim at the back of Dr. Brightling’s head, two more paces and the double barrel of the short shotgun was practically touching the back of the Doctors head. Without pausing the assassin pulled the trigger.

Distracted by the conversation on his vidphone, Dr. Brightling had no chance. He didn’t notice the approach from behind of his killer. He died instantly without even registering the distinctive blast of a flichette cartridge being discharged.