Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Six's blog

By N.Barnes

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Entry 15: 22.06.70>
Looks like we’ve had another moment or two playing the fly rather than the windshield. I’m writing this from the couch at Glyph’s place because just at the moment, I can’t run the risk of heading back to my gaffe. My Dodge is up on blocks out in a pristine little weapons’ workshop that Glyph has tacked on to the side of her place and I can’t even go see Kitty or my folks. About
24 hours ago, I was cooling my heels in a Las Vegas jail and now I’m a fugitive, on the run, wanted by Lone Star…

Let me take it back for you. All the intel we gathered had given our Johnson some concern and he asked us to sit tight and wait on his comms. He’d coughed up the 10k and frozen the bonus at 400 large so when he got back in touch, he was looking to restructure the deal. It would be 200k to ice Manton Ford provided we made it look like an accident and then another 200k to find out where the Chloro-Manganese 5/1 was being manufactured and processed. It seemed reasonable and we agreed, making a few quick moves to get Ki-rinn access to Dr Ford’s vehicle subscription and then setting about tailing the NA. The subscription to Ford’s motor meant Ki-rinn could ride the vehicle through its sensors and put it into the path of a truck or over the side of a cliff at an opportune moment. Sweet as a nut. It was clear the NA were getting their mitts on the 5/1 somewhere and hopefully they would then lead us up the chain to the supplier, so when they headed for Las Vegas we followed suit, using the Fly Spy as a tracker.

We burnt rubber, pushing the sleds redline to make up time and thought little of it when we got our asses Gatso’d by a state trooper. He was tenacious though, sticking on us long after we’d sped out of sight. I figured he must have painted the vehicles so, to prevent him from being a problem at the Vegas end of the trip, I hung back and rolled out the Stinger. I played fox and hound with him, letting him catch sight of the car before roaring off with a wheel spin that picked up a good cloud of dust to conceal the Stinger. He bought it, hook, line and sinker and popped all four tyres before spinning off into the desert. We rolled back to collect our gear and spotted that the patrol car could explode at any moment. Ash played hero and hauled the fellah out – probably saved his life – before pinching his badge and gun. Pay attention now. The gun was a Lone Star edition Colt Manhunter and I didn’t like the look of it one bit. It screamed RFID at me but Ash was determined to pilfer it. I shrugged but told him not to leave it in my car or near any of my gear – just in case…

A little research into NA fronts had given us the names of three Vegas nightspots, housed within the same building. An order of hermetically sealed vaccumn flasks – the same sort used to poison the Caribou with 5/1 – had gone to this building and it seemed Book and his buddy were headed that way too. The nightspots, Dragon’s Breath, Pussycat Lounge and Tiberius were all run by Volcano Inc from a giant, faux-volcano fa├žade shrouded building in Downtown Vegas. Having finally arrived, we headed straight there while Ki-rinn and Rapunzel shadowed Book. Pay attention again. The plastic volcano had a standard patron’s policy – no firearms – so we shucked our gear out into the glove box of the vehicle before heading inside.

There wasn’t much of interest inside the plastic volcano, so when our tail told us Book was headed over, I was happy to split rather than risk being spotted and ID’d. I clocked that there was a motorbike cop paying a bit too much attention to my car so I activated the remote and started to drive it off of the lot. CHIPS decided to be a clever bastard and toggled a signal jammer so readying my snap baton, I headed over.

Continues: 1/4>
|| >
I try to play it cool, try to just clamber in and drive off but as expected, this extra from the Village People is lonely and fancies a chat. He tells me, there’s a signal coming from my car that relates to a stolen piece of police equipment and my heart sinks. I visualise jabbing Ash in the eye with a sharp stick but T.J. Hooker spoils the moment by insisting I let him search the vehicle. Sure, no problem, help yourself officer I say as I fetch him a sharp rap in the signal box with my snap baton.

Now this is supposed to go down quickly. With the advantage of surprise, I should be able to strike quickly, knocking the signal jammer off-line and then jump into the car and blaze. That’s how it’s supposed to go down. Turns out I’m up against the only motorbike cop in Nevada with a PhD in Smug. In response to my snap baton, he produces a snap baton of his own and we go at it Hey Nonny Nonny style like a pair of fucking Morris Dancers for a while.
I lose my baton in the melee and I’m fortunate that he looses his too but all he does is go for a Tazer. We brawl, schoolboy style for a while, and I come up with the gun but the copper seems unfazed by my threats. I point and shoot but there must be some sort of biometric scanner in the pistol grip and I get nothing more than a slug to the jaw as he moves to attack once again. Turns out I’m facing Tyson and he systematically begins to beat the living tar out of me. Last thing I remember before I black out is calling Ash for help…

I woke up in a 6’ x 4’ cell, with a missing tooth and a splitting headache.
After letting me cool my heels for a while the Heat haul me out and in the corridor, we pass Ash, forlornly clutching a rap sheet and shuffling back to a cell of his own. In my interrogation they present me with a foot-long rap sheet of jumped up Mickey Mouse charges. Some of them I admit to – I did assault T.J. Hooker, I did have an illegal firearm on a concealed weapon mount and I did blaze past a radar gun at 210mph. But they’re trying to fit me up for Ash’s crimes too and make me an accessory to offences committed while I was unconscious. Seems Ash was just as rubbish in a fist fight with the motorbike cop as I had been, so he resorted to stabbing the guy and even managed to Frag that up! Ash is going down on attempted murder and has admitted culpability. I demand my courtroom trial. I wonder if they’ll let me flip the switch on the electric chair when Ash gets his sorry ass fried.
I wonder if the schmuck even realises it was the RFID tag in the LS Manhunter that got us into trouble. The RFID tag I warned him about. The LS Manhunter I told him not to leave in my car. Cock jockey….

Lone Star gave me one phone call and there was really only one man who I figured would be able to spread the word far and wide and try to send some assistance my way. That man was Snow. To add insult to injury, I’d loaned Ash 100k to buy a plot of land and that meant I had nothing but pocket change – not enough for my bail, not enough to settle my fines and certainly not enough to finance any activity to guarantee my freedom, legal or otherwise. I was in Snow’s hands and in the hands of my comrades. Ki-rinn and Glyph were out there in Vegas somewhere and I just had to hope that I’d built up enough credit with them to making rescuing me seem worthwhile.

I got another night in the slammer for my troubles and early in the morning, was rudely awoken by the screws. I was bundled into a prison van, with Ash and another few villains and set off for our appointment before the Beak. En route, I felt the subtle shift of weight then a rapid change in momentum as the prison van’s brakes were squeezed and then slammed on. Ash wasn’t quite so wise to the movements of the chassis and as the tyres began to squeal in protest, Ash was thrown sideways, smashing his head against the safety cage.
With the thump of vehicle on vehicle, we came to an abrupt stop. It was obvious there was a break on, whether for us or one of the other inmates I couldn’t say, but I knew what was going to come next and despite cursing him for a chump, I moved to protect Ash prone body with my own.

Continues: 2/4>
|| >

Sure enough, there was a muffled explosion from the rear of the van and the lock popped through pinging off of the security cage. Our minder cranked his shotgun but the door swung open and two quick bursts of small arms fire dropped him where he stood. Glyph swung the door open and beckoned us out. I could hear further gunshots from outside so I knew that Ki-rinn and maybe one or two of the other guys were nearby but man, I have never been so happy to see Rapunzel in my life. I was wrapped! We hauled Ash’ sorry carcass out and with Frosty urging a hasty retreat, we blazed. Ash and I had been strapped with electronic tags and I knew we would have to get them off sharpish if we were to avoid immediately being tagged and traced. Ki-rinn set about cutting the tag off of Ash while Glyph filled me in.

The Daring Duo had spent an eventful night raiding the local impound yard and had managed to retrieve my vehicle. It had been stripped of weapons and personal effects and the engine management system had been locked up separately to immobilize it. They’d had to substitute an engine management system from another vehicle but they had got my ride and that was the main thing. The damage done by running the wrong EMS was hardly going to be permanent! Bad news was, that Johnson had gotten wind of our little excursion to the big house and had decided we just weren’t pro enough for his corporation. I was going to fetch Mr Contacts a hefty smack upside his damn swede for bringing that on us later on. From the sounds of the tazer built into the E-tag discharging into Ash’ leg as Frosty struggled to get it off, it sounded as though K was getting his payback right there and then. I don’t pretend to understand Johnson’s position. Sounds like a crock of drek to me. He’d changed the parameters of the deal himself two or three times without a word of complaint from us. Frankly, he owed us. Without our intel, he would have known nothing about what had been going on. Didn’t stop him from dropping us though. Hell, WE didn’t know who he represented so there was hardly any connection between us and his organisation – how was our misfortune with Lone Star going to kick back on him?!

Hell, whatever. It WAS unprofessional to let something so minor throw such a spanner in the works of our operation. I knew Ki-rinn would have something to say later on but I knew I’d already learnt my lessons. (1) Stay tooled.
(2) Run under a SINless identity. (3) Don’t fly solo and (4) Fuck the Corps – they’ve been nothing but trouble to our team the whole time we’ve been running. I’m not inclined to work their circuit again.

Frosty finally got the E-tag off of Ash but I was still running hot and we’d picked up a helicopter tail. We slowed and stopped to let Ki-rinn dive out and head over to where they’d left my ride. He was hoping to run decoy but I stayed in Glyph’s car – I knew the Chopper would have painted the Eurocar and it was my tag they were trailing so there was no point trying to throw them off of my scent. As we hit the highway once more, K took off in the other direction. Pursuit was dogged and relentless, so I finally admitted defeat and pulled over to let Rapunzel shoot off my E-tag. I realised then, as she pointed her gun at my ankle, I trusted her to make the shot. Shame she couldn’t do anything about the anti-tamper Tazer discharge. My vision swam and everything faded to black…

I came round, who knows how long later, to find myself all neatly strapped in with a worried Glyph panicking about the Lone Star chopper she’d been unable to shake and the snake of patrol cars winding back across the desert.
We were nearing the San Fran city limits and Glyph had a point – any minute now we were going to run out of road and luck. Surely Lone Star Vegas had radioed ahead and alerted their Bay Area colleagues. Hell, according to Rapunzel the determined bastards had even hung around while she took an excursion into Tir Tangire to try and shake them.

I was woozy but without the E-tag on my leg, all of my Cyberwear was coming back online and I had an archived electronic warfare programme on my PAN.
That little doozy worked like a dream and with the laser painting broken, Glyph was able to dive into Golden Gate park and break the chopper’s visual.

Continues: 3/4>
|| >
We were back on home turf and free from pursuit but it quickly became obvious that things wouldn’t be getting back to normal for a while. There were unmarked police cars staking out my home and lock up, one outside my folks’ place and one tailing Kitty. I need to give a word out here to Glyph who has been an absolute diamond. She let Ki-rinn park my dirty Dodge in her clinically clean workshop and says it can stay put until I replace the EMS.
She offered my carcass the sofa to sleep on until the heat lose interest in my place and she took the risk of heading down to the lock up and pretending to be a customer collecting the jeep. If not for her cojones, I’d have nothing to drive! All of which is to say nothing for the simple fact of her putting her ass on the line to help bust me out of jail.

Ash hightailed it the minute we hit the city centre. I could see in his eyes that he knew damn well he’d fucked up and it was tearing him apart. Yes, he made a dumb mistake leaving that Lone Star Manhunter in my car after I’d warned him about the possibility that it was tagged but I was the one who couldn’t throw down against a single beat cop on my own and he only got arrested because he came to haul my ass out of the fire. I’ve said my piece and as far as I’m concerned, that’s it, enough said, done. I hope he doesn’t let it hit him too hard. I’ve still got his back 100 per cent. If nothing else, I owe him one for doing his best to prevent me from being arrested.

I’m worried for him though because in an attempt to rectify his mistake, he’s gone straight off and done a dodgy deal to secure a run worth 250,000 Nuyen. The run is to snaffle a statuette from San Fran State Museum and the only guarantee we’ve got that there will be a payout afterwards is one brief phone call with some German Johnson. I certainly can’t afford to turn it down though and we’re resolved to tackle the museum tonight.

For my part, I want this record to disappear. I don’t want to be a fugitive, hiding out in San Fran rather than heading round to see my folks and my girl. I’ve learnt my lesson, I need a SINless ID to Run with, but I want to keep my legit ID as well. I can’t Shadowrun for ever after all and at some point I intend to make a pukka business of VI Customs and I’ll need Vincent Caznotti’s SIN to make that dream reality.

Fortunately, while I may not have the same breadth of contacts as Ash, those that I do have, I keep for a reason. Like Capt. Duncan Croner of San Fran Lone Star. He’s got dirt on us but we have dirt on him too and I’m sure there’s a little bit of a favour owed both ways. I tapped Frost up to see whether or not El Capitan could do anything to make my record disappear. We heard back not long ago. Croner might be inclined to help if we deal with a little problem for him first. I’ve told Ash to help and to be fair to my man, he’s more than willing. Glyph, again a diamond in the rough, also threw her hat into the ring. As expected, Ki-rinn had some wise words. He thinks I’m being foolish and that Croner might be out just to set me up. He’d much rather I let him work his Matrix magic and let Vinnie Caznotti die so that Six can truly live. That said, he respects my position and he has got my back – he’s in for the job too.

So we’re off tonight to raid the San Fran State Museum and then tomorrow we expect to hear back from Snow letting us know exactly what price Croner has put on his services. I’ve been involved in a goof-up these past couple of days and by and large, I’ve been lucky enough to get away with it. Now, it’s time to make amends and put things back on track. I owe Ki-rinn and Glyph big time too. My incarceration scotched a good job for the whole team, I’ll not forget that and I’ll not let them down when it comes to making my reparations.

Mood: Determined.

Ends: 4/4>

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