Trust

"Are the terms acceptable, Havik?"

The runner looked at the suit sitting across from him in the dimly lit room. While the man dressed corp, the location for the meet was an abandoned office in the outskirts of Tacoma.

"They are, Mr. Johnson," Havik said. "I'll secure your data and deliver it to your prescribed location, as per our agreement."

"Excellent. You will be contacted when we've received the data, to arrange for payment."

Havik scooped up his advance from the table and nodded to his employer before turning away and walking out of the office.


Katherine MacKenzie pulled into her parking spot at Cross Biomedical and put her car in Park. She let out a sigh, as she prepared for another night shift at the office.

Opening the door and stepping out of the car, she looked up at one of the seemingly few clear nights in Seattle. She leaned into the door to grab her briefcase from the passenger seat and as she latched onto the handle, she became aware of the alarm at her workplace, ringing loudly into the air. She stepped back and turned around to look at the building, and found a broad shouldered man standing right beside her, blocking her view.

His hair was brown in a crew cut and his eyes were a vibrant green that made her think they had to be cybernetic. He had a jagged scar down the left side of his face that marred his otherwise rugged good looks. He was dressed in a tight black shirt and black denim jeans. She was about to ask him his name, when she noticed he was clutching his abdomen and blood was leaking around his fingers.

His eyes looked toward her ID Badge, which read "Dr. Katherine MacKenzie, CBM Biotechnician". His eyes came back onto her face.

"Get in the car."

"I beg your pardon?" she asked, defiantly.

The wounded man brought up an enormous pistol and leveled it at her forehead. "Get in the car. Now."

Katherine's face went from a look of annoyance to terror. She raised her hands and climbed back behind the wheel of her car. The man rounded the front of her car, keeping the pistol trained on her the whole time. He opened the passenger side door and slid inside.

"Drive."

"They're going to notice I'm missing… they'll be looking for me…" Katherine tried to negotiate.

"They're looking for me too. Drive."

"Where are we going?" she asked, as tears began to stream down her cheeks.

"Stop crying. I promise you won't be harmed, as long as you do what I say," her abductor said. He slid down under the glove box, making himself as hard to see as possible. "Take the executive exit."

"But, I'm not an executive…" she stated, her voice still wavering.

"Your ID badge says otherwise…you have Orange clearance, which is executive clearance. There are no human guards, only cameras on the executive exit. Make it quick," he demanded, making sure his pistol remained visible to her.

Katherine pulled out of the parking spot and rolled toward the executive entrance. As she approached the gate, she realized that the man was right. The gate would open with a swipe of her card and the cameras were all angled to see every person in the car, but wouldn't be able to see her abductor through the overhanging dashboard.

She ran her card through the reader and the gate slid away. She pulled onto the street and turned onto 45th. "We're clear of the building."

Her abductor slid into the seat beside her and she saw him grimace in pain from his injury. "Head for the old 'Stylin' clothing factory on Michaels. There's an alley on the north side. Pull into the alleyway and turn off the car."

Katherine was scared, but she obeyed the man sitting beside her, in case he upheld his part of the deal and let her go when this was over. They rode in silence for the forty minute drive and she followed his directions exactly. When the car stopped, he opened his door and made his way around the front of the car, keeping the barrel leveled at her. He pulled her door open and said, "Get out,"

"You said you'd let me go…" she said, as she stepped out of the car.

"I said I wouldn't hurt you. Keep moving."

Katherine allowed herself to be led inside the old factory. The building was dimly lit by a handful of flickering fluorescent lamps. Old smashed crates littered many of the dark corners. The cleaner portion of the warehouse was where the old offices were set up. Katherine's abductor led her over to the office area.

"Try to find a needle, some thread and a piece of cloth that aren't too filthy," he ordered.

She started sifting through the leftover bits from the old clothing manufacturer, as he began pulling tools out of a satchel around his waist. Eventually, she found what he had requested. When she looked back at him, he had pulled out needle nose pliers, duct tape and a lighter.

"Alright, Doctor. Do your thing," he said.

"Do what?"

"I have a bullet lodged in my gut. Sterilize the pliers and needle, take out the bullet and stitch me closed."

"You can't be serious!" she exclaimed.

"I'd rather not have you conduct surgery on me at gunpoint…I realize they aren't the best tools for the job, but it's what we have. So, get started."

With reluctance, Katherine approached the man as he leaned backwards and pulled up his shirt to reveal a freely bleeding wound with a tiny borehole in the center. With shaking hands, she picked up the pliers and lighter. Flicking the lighter, a small flame rose up, which she placed the tip of the pliers in. She waited until the layer of grime on the pliers was burnt away, before she looked at the slightly glowing tip of the crude surgical tool and then at his wound.

"This is going to hurt," she said.

"Just get it over with."

As Katherine inserted the pliers into the wound there was a slight sizzling noise and her captor's hands immediately clenched together and his face locked into a tight grimace. She made a quick note that his pistol was no longer in his hand, but she didn't know where he had put it. Rather than give him a reason to retrieve it, she concentrated on the task before her.

Pushing the pliers deeper into the wound, it was becoming apparent that the bullet had penetrated deep into the man's abdomen. She began to question whether the pliers would have the required depth to reach the projectile, when she felt the tip strike something metallic. Opening them, she pushed a little further and closed the nose on the object. She slowly and carefully pulled back until the slug was free of her captor's body.

Grabbing the lighter again, she heated the tip of the needle and then threaded it with the spool of thread she had found. She quickly stitched the wound closed and placed the cloth over the area. He grabbed the roll of duct tape and taped the makeshift bandage to himself before standing up.

"You should remain still, or you'll pop a stitch," Katherine warned.

"Sorry Doc. I have to be moving on."

The man reached into his tool belt and pulled out a cellphone. He flipped it open and found the inside to be mangled. The phone had taken a bullet, likely meant for him.

"Frag!" he yelled, pitching it across the warehouse. He looked at Katherine and demanded, "Give me your phone."

"I don't have it…I forgot it at the office yesterday."

"Why do I find that hard to believe?"

"Please, you have to believe me… I don't have it with me. Check my briefcase, if you have to. I don't have a phone with me."

The man looked around for a phone mounted on the walls but most everything had been removed from the building. Looking frustrated, he looked over at a support pole that had at one time held up a wall or partition. "Have a seat."

"You promised you wouldn't hurt me…"

"I know what I said. Sit down."

Katherine trembled as she sat on the cement floor. He pulled her arms behind her back and he duct taped her hands to the pole.

"Stay quiet and I won't have to tape your mouth. I'm not going far."

Katherine quietly sat by herself, as her abductor went through her purse and strode off into another corner of the warehouse.


Havik stepped outside the warehouse to Katherine's car. He pulled out the keys he had lifted from her purse, opened the driver side door and slid the keys into the ignition. He got the car warmed up in preparation to leave, as he searched the glovebox and under the seats for his hostage's cellphone. He froze in his search as he heard a news bulletin on the radio.

"Cross Applied Technologies is offering a substantial reward for information in the capture of an escaped fugitive, who may have kidnapped a member of their corporate family. He is described as a white, human male with short brown hair and black clothes. He may be bleeding from a wound sustained during his flight from Cross security forces. He is reported to be driving a stolen vehicle with plate number ABN4513. All local hospitals have been placed on alert and if you see a man matching this description, please call your local branch of Lone Star or CATCo Security…"

"Frag!" Havik said as he flipped off the radio. He programmed the auto-navigation on the car to drive to the far side of the city before stepping out of the car and back into the warehouse.

"Hello?" he heard a voice call from inside.

"Easy, Doc. It's still just me," Havik said.

He could sense her disappointment. "I heard my car drive away… I thought you had left me here."

"No such luck. Leaving you here in a derelict warehouse would be the same as killing you, in this city. I promised you that you wouldn't be harmed."

Havik scooped up an old crate and plunked it across from Katherine. He sat down and looked at her face, her makeup in a dark smear down her cheeks.

"You can call me Havik, for the duration of our time together."

"You're a shadowrunner?" she asked.

"Yep. You're a victim of circumstance and for that, I apologize. This wasn't a part of my original plan."

"So…how long are you going to keep me here?"

"I caught a news bulletin that Cross is after me in full force. I figure I'll have to lay low here for a day or two until things cool off a little bit. I can't let you go and risk you telling everyone where I am."

"I won't say a word, I swear…" Katherine pleaded.

"I'd like to believe you, Doc. But I know that corps have ways of making people talk, even when they really don't want to. So, you're stuck with me for a while."

A moment of silence passed between the two, as Havik pulled his tool kit off and rummaged through it for anything of value.

"I wouldn't have thought my absence would have garnered such a heavy response from Cross…" Katherine mused.

"That's their public reason from tracking me down," Havik said, not looking up, "But I think it has more to do with what I took from them."

"What? What did you take?"

"I dunno, some file. Must be worth something to someone…"

"You stole something, and you don't know what it is?"

"Nope, nor do I need to know. Knowing too much just leads to other problems. I was paid to lift the chip, not peruse it."

"You risk your life to steal something that may be worth nothing? How does that make sense?" Katherine asked.

"I suppose it doesn't. But, doing what I do, I can make more in one night than you do in a year. So can you say that working your ass off behind a desk makes any more sense?"

"At least what I do is legal…"

"Legality is easily overlooked these days," Havik dismissed.

The shadowrunner pulled out an empty water bottle and walked over to a nearby puddle. He skimmed off the stagnant surface and scooped up some water into the bottle. He dropped a water purification tablet into it and set it aside for later. He then removed a series of tools and brushes. Drawing his pistol again, Katherine immediately tensed up.

"Relax, Doc. I'm just cleaning it."

She watched with some interest, as he popped the clip, emptied the chamber and disassembled the gun with expert dexterity.

Without taking his eyes off his task, Havik said, "You know, you should probably try to get some sleep. Your time with me will probably go faster if you spend a larger portion unconscious."

"It's hard to feel tired when your hands are uncomfortably bound behind your back…" she said.

"Suit yourself."

Katherine continued to watch Havik clean his gun with dedication. Once he had finished cleaning it to his satisfaction, she watched him reassemble the weapon and slide it back into its holster. He then reached into his pack and pulled out an injector pen. Once again, Katherine went rigid, fearing what he might be planning.

"Would you relax, woman? This is for me, not you."

"What are you, some kind of junkie?"

"Hardly. Ever hear of the drug Long Haul?"

"I have. Do you have any idea what that stuff can do to your neurochemistry after regular use?" Katherine asked.

"Miss, I'm a shadowrunner. Longevity is not something my profession offers. Long term effects are not really anything I consider. Besides, I need to keep an eye on both of our asses. This will keep me from needing to sleep for a least one night. It's not quite a full dose, but it will have to do."

Havik placed the pen in the crook of his elbow and fired the syringe's contents into his bloodstream. He then grabbed his lighter and sterilized the tip of the injector before tossing the empty pen into a dark corner of the warehouse.

"Could I get a drink?" Katherine asked.

Havik glanced at her and then looked back at the bottle of water. He shook the bottle and saw the sedimentation at the bottom of the bottle that showed that the purification tablets were doing their part.

"Which hand is dominant?"

"Pardon?"

"Are you right or left handed?"

"Right handed."

Havik pulled out a knife and grabbed the roll of duct tape. He kneeled behind her and cut the tape off. She yelped as he pulled the tape off her wrists, only for him to grab her right wrist and re-tape it to the pole again.

He returned to his crate to grab the bottle of water and handed it to her. Grabbing it with her free hand, she took a mouthful, doing her best to ignore the remaining taste in the water from the chemicals of the tablet.

"Thank you," she said, handing back the bottle.

Havik took the bottle from her and took a swig from it himself before securing the cap and setting it aside. "You should try to sleep, Doc."

Havik stood up and started patrolling the perimeter of the warehouse, leaving Katherine by herself. She listened to the rhythm of his footsteps making his way around the warehouse and eventually drifted off.


Katherine awoke to a loud screech not far from where she lay. She shot upright and saw Havik dragging something past her. Upon closer examination, she saw that it was an enormous rat.

"Oh my God!" she muttered, placing her hand over her mouth.

"Never seen a Devil Rat before?" Havik said with a smirk.

"It's as big as a house cat!"

"This one's still pretty young too. These things can get pretty damned big. At least we have something to eat now…"

"You're…going to eat that thing?" Katherine said with disgust.

"It's this or the handful of standard rations I have left."

"I'll take the rations, thanks…"

Havik reached into his supply bag and tossed a small can at her feet. "Enjoy."

"I can't open the can…" Katherine said, waving her free off-hand.

The runner reached for his knife and walked over to Katherine. With a quick flick, he cut the tape away freeing her hand. "That better?"

Katherine yelped as she ripped the tape from her wrist. "Why would you do that?"

"Call it an act of faith. I'm still keeping an eye on you, but you've been one of my better hostages. I figure you know what could happen if you run."

Katherine nodded. "You've done this kind of thing before?" Katherine pulled the lid off the can, revealing the assorted dried foods inside the tin.

"Actually, no. I'm off the map right now. This whole laying-low-with-a-hostage thing is not my typical M.O."

Havik began dragging crates into a large pile not far from where they set up their little camp. He smashed the crates onto the floor to break them into smaller pieces in order to build a small bonfire to roast the rat.

"Why do you do all this?" Katherine asked.

"Do what?"

"Why did you become a shadowrunner?"

"Doc, tha…"

"Katherine," she corrected.

"Pardon?"

"My name is Katherine, not Doc."

"Alright, Katherine. Shadowrunning was not my first choice of jobs. I started off in the corporate sector, like you."

"What happened?"

"That's a long story," Havik said, while he continued to break down old crates.

"What else are we doing at the moment?"

Havik worked in silence for a while, finishing off his firewood. When he finished, he sat down on his crate near Katherine.

"I started running because of my sister," he said.

"Because of your sister!"

"I worked for Universal Omnitech. I was a project leader on their latest technowizardry… I don't remember the details, but whatever it was has likely been replaced by something bigger and better at this point...regardless of that, I was doing alright, as far as wageslaves go, but one day I got a call at work. I saw a bunch of men in black and balaclavas standing around my sister, who was tied to a chair and looked like she had been pretty badly beaten up. They were demanding a ransom from me, or they would kill her. My sister was the only family I had left, so I scrambled to try and come up with the money for the ransom. There seemed to be no way I could get the money in time, but then it was brought to my attention that my current project would likely be worth a lot of money to the right people…"

"Who told you that?" Katherine asked.

"I don't know. It was an anonymous message, but hindsight told me it was the same people that had my sister and that the data was what they were really after. I gathered up all the data on the project and sought out a buyer. I was paid a ton of money for the compiled data and I called the people back to tell them I had the money. They ordered me to wire the money, which I did. When they received it, they wired me the address where they had her hostage. When I got there, they had killed her anyways."

Silence hung over the two of them for a brief moment, before Havik continued.

"With my career at Omnitech over and no family left, I used the money left over from the sale of the project to disappear and start a crusade to find the men who killed my sister. That's why I'm running."

"Is that why you don't have teammates?"

Havik nodded. "I trust nobody. I've relied on myself this long; I don't need to worry about any teammates getting whacked and adding another vendetta to my list. I still have the first one to resolve."

"You have to trust somebody, or you'll lose your mind. It's human nature to have someone to rely on," Katherine said.

"Trust isn't natural. Trust is a commodity. It can be bought, it can be sold and it can be earned over time. In no way is trust mandatory."

"You trusted me enough to free me."

"You've earned a tiny amount of my trust. Don't spend it all in one place," Havik said with a slight smile.

Katherine returned the smile and scanned the warehouse. "Any idea if there's a bathroom around here?"

Havik pointed to the back corner of what used to be the office area. "It's back there. The cleaning crew hasn't visited in a while."

"I'll manage," Katherine said, standing up. "Where's your usual paranoia? Aren't afraid I might escape?"

"I scoped this place out last night. There's no way you could escape from that particular corner. Go take care of your business."

Katherine smiled and walked towards the bathroom.

Havik watched her go to ensure she didn't stray from her path. He couldn't help but notice that she was an attractive woman, even though she was a bit older than him. She was probably in her mid to late thirties, in comparison to his mid to late twenties, but she had taken good care of her body. She was slender and had a nice figure. Her hair was cut short in that corporate look that was so common these days, but she pulled it off well. Her eyes sparkled with vitality, something lacking in most corpers, who seemed to go through life in autopilot.

He shook himself from his daydream as she emerged from the washroom.

"There's unclean and then there's that room. That has got to be the most disgusting facility I've ever had to use."

"Can't say I didn't warn you," Havik said.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Questions are free. Answers can be expensive."

Katherine paused at his reply briefly before continuing. "What's your real name? I feel kind of silly referring to you as 'Havik'."

Havik shrugged. "My name's John."

"That's about as anonymous as Havik…"

"You asked. Nevertheless, having a name as common as John is a boon in my line of work."

Havik leaned over the firewood and touched his lighter to a few places in order to try and get the fire started. After some effort and adding some old papers to the pile, the old crates finally caught and started to burn steadily. Havik grabbed a shard of metal left over from the old walls and impaled the rat on it, holding it over the blaze.

They heard a couple of drops hit the tin roof before it began pouring rain outside. Streams of water began filtering down through holes in the old roof.

"Katherine, see if you can find a bucket or some kind of container to catch some water in. We may need it."

Havik kept an eye on Katherine as she rummaged through old crates and eventually returned with a rusty old pail.

She placed it under one of the nearby drips to let it fill up.

"It's been a while since I've done anything like this…" Katherine mused aloud.

"What, been taken hostage?"

She gave him a cynical look and said, "No…when I was younger, I used to go camping with my family. My father was one of these outdoorsy types, who left all the comforts of home at home. We'd go out into the woods and rough it for a week or two at a time. I used to really enjoy that…"

"So, how many people have I caused to panic by abducting you?" Havik asked.

"I don't know. I'm not married to anything but my job. I have no kids…I guess I just let my job become my number one priority."

"And you say my lifestyle is unhealthy. At least I get out and enjoy some pleasant female companionship from time to time."

"That you don't have to pay for?" she asked, with an underlying edge to her voice.

"I don't feel that I should have to pay for female company. I go out, get to know a woman and if she's up for anything else at the end of the night, then all the better. You'd have it easier…you'd be hard pressed to find a man not interested in coming home with you at the end of the night."

Katherine blushed a little bit. "You're just being kind."

"You've taken good care of yourself, you're successful and you're confident. You'd be surprised how many men find that alluring."

Katherine gave a quiet, "Thank you," before Havik turned back to his rat roast.


The cleaned bones of the Devil rat lay in a pile and the glowing coals from the fire provided a small amount of light now that the sun had set. Havik lay back as Katherine checked his gunshot wound with the aid of a pocket flashlight.

"You've pulled a couple of stitches, but it appears to be healing alright," she said, as she placed the cloth bandage back over the injury.

"Thanks, Doc," Havik said, sitting back up. "I appreciate your handiwork."

Katherine smiled and nodded. "Can I ask you something?"

"Again?"

"How did you get your alias?"

"I was young and stupid when I started. I always seemed to stir up a hornet's nest wherever I went. So, I was branded with Havik. I've never felt like changing it, even though I'm considerably less messy now."

"Have you ever killed anybody?"

Havik sat silently for a moment, before nodding that he had. "It's not a fact I'm proud of. Like I said…I was young and stupid."

A moment of silence passed between them and Havik looked up at Katherine.

"Enough about my depressing life…what are things like inside the walls at Cross?"

Katherine shrugged. "Pretty boring. I live where they tell me to, work when they tell me to…and they make you work often. I can't think of the last time I actually took a vacation."

"What do you do? It sounds like they think you're pretty important to work you so hard."

"I'm a member of assorted projects. I'm in the Biotechnology industry, so a lot of it is research. Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end."

"Any juicy tidbits you could share?" Havik said, jokingly.

Katherine gave him a scolding look and said nothing.

"It's been a long day. You should get some sleep," Havik eventually said.

Katherine nodded and lay down on the cold cement to try and sleep. Havik stood up and began his patrol of the perimeter as he had the previous night to keep potential scavengers at bay. Once Katherine was asleep, he returned to his position on his crate, near where she lay. It had been a long time since he had spoken of his past and of his sister. It had felt good to disclose it to someone. It made him realize that Katherine may have had a point, about trusting people. If he relied on himself too heavily, he would likely crush himself under his own weight.

As Havik was contemplating the ramifications of his isolation, he became suddenly aware that the Long Haul he had injected into himself had worn off and his body was crashing from exhaustion. After only a few minutes from this realization, Havik fell asleep.


Havik shot upright. Judging by the light flowing in from windows and holes in the exterior he knew it was morning. Looking around, he saw no trace of Katherine.

"Drek!" he said, as he sprang to his feet and began packing his belongings into his kit, so he could get out of there before the cavalry arrived.

"Morning, John."

Havik froze and turned to the sound of the voice, his hand on the grip of his pistol. He saw Katherine standing there with two Styrofoam trays in her hands.

"What are you doing here?" Havik asked.

"I'm your hostage, right?" she asked. "I just stepped out for breakfast."

Havik had warning bells going off in his head. "You could have gone home. In all reality, you probably should have. Why did you come back?"

Setting the food down near Havik, she said, "After some considerable thought, I've been thinking about leaving Cross."

"Have you now?"

"They work me into the ground, paying me half of what I'm worth. I've often wondered whether I might have been better off opening my own little clinic somewhere. Rather than jumping at the opportunity to join a large corporation, if I had gone independent, to help the needy rather than the rich…maybe things could have been different."

Havik's gaze didn't soften. "Perhaps. If you ever decided to leave, it'd be a matter of falling below radar and finding a new city to live in."

Katherine smiled. "You've given me a lot to think about… I'm quite sure your lovely rat is long done. I bought you some food. And don't worry…I used cash."

Katherine helped herself to the top tray and started eating the scrambled eggs, bacon and toast she had on the tray. The smell of the food was enticing and slowly, Havik reached for the tray of food. He slowly picked at the food at first, but as hunger asserted itself, he began eating with a little more fervor.

They both ate quickly and were sipping at their orange juice before Katherine said, "Wasn't that better than Devil rat?"

"Yeah, the rat was a little greasy," Havik said. He rose and resumed packing up his belongings.

"You're heading out?" Katherine asked.

"Yeah. Been in one place long enough. Time to start moving again."

"Am I free to go?"

Havik turned to Katherine. "Once I've left, yes, you're free to go."

She nodded. "Thank you for keeping your promise not to kill me."

Havik nodded and took a step toward the door. His leg buckled and he collapsed hard to the cement, ending up on his back, looking at the ceiling.

"Are you alright?" Katherine asked.

"I can't move… my muscles aren't responding…"

"Good."

Katherine walked over to Havik and pulled his pistol from its holster. She released the safety, loaded the chamber and leveled the gun at Havik.

"Don't worry. Cross Elite Security will be here soon to collect you."

"Why do all this?" Havik asked.

"While you were snoring last night, I searched for what you stole from us and couldn't find it. Since you managed to hide that chip fairly well, the next best thing is to turn you over to Cross Security and they'll get that chip from you one way or another."

"You were lying that whole time?" Havik spat.

"Not the whole time. Once you decided to give me the freedom to move around freely, I'd hoped that you might make a mistake. It's a shame things had to be like this…I really do like you, John. It's a shame about your sister. Nobody deserves that. But, I have to look out for myself. Turning you in will likely earn me a bonus or promotion and it was too good an opportunity to pass up."

"Where did you keep the drug? It's not something you can get in a pharmacy…"

"I keep some in a secret container, disguised as a stick of lipstick, in my purse. It's for sedating unwilling surgical participants, but it worked fine in a pinch," Katherine said.

"How lucky for you…"

"I suppose it is. I'm sorry, but business is business."

"I'm sorry too," Havik said, as he sprang to his feet and drew his reserve pistol from his back holster.

Katherine stammered as she backed away from the suddenly active runner. "Wha…how…? There was enough drug in there to keep you down for half a day."

"There's a funny story about that," Havik said, "Not long ago I had a high profile job for one of your competitors. As part of their payment to me, they installed a nanite colony or two into my guts to ensure that common paralytic and sedative agents were blocked. My cybereyes displayed that I had been exposed to a pharmaceutical compound and that the nanites were neutralizing them. So, I just played along."

Katherine stood in slack jawed fear of the runner glaring at her over the barrel of his reserve gun. His heavy pistol trembled slightly in her hands.

"Kathy, give me the gun."

Havik reached forward for the gun and Katherine pulled the trigger. The round slammed into Havik's chest and flattened before falling to the ground.

"Another funny story…" Havik began, "The last person I ever shot and killed had a family. That family paid a man, that wasn't young and stupid, to kill me. I was shot with a bullet that passed through my lungs and knocked me down. As I struggled to breathe, he got into a car and ran me over. It crushed my ribcage and damaged most of my organs. He left me for dead, but a good samaritan, that didn't know I was a bad guy, got me to a hospital. I underwent massive surgery and I now have a reinforced titanium ribcage to hold everything in place. After that, I vowed to stock mostly gel rounds and to avoid killing whenever possible."

"Mostly gel rounds?" she asked, with some hesitation.

"I pack lethal rounds in my back up pistol, for emergency situations."

The color drained from Katherine's face, as she realized the implications. As she stood there in shock, Havik lunged forward and snatched the pistol from her hands.

"You taught me a lot about trust over these past few days, Kathy. It made me think about who I am for the first time in years. I warned you not to spend my trust all in one place, but you failed to take my words to heart."

Havik slid the pistol he had taken from Kathy back into its holster. "Trust is a commodity, as I said. It's just a commodity I need to spread a round a little more. You violated my trust today. It won't happen again."

Katherine's eyes closed, as a tear rolled down her cheek.


"Go!"

Cross Elite Security stormed into the warehouse, with their submachineguns at the ready. They ducked behind nearby stacks of crates and swept the area. The commanding officer motioned one team into one corner, while sending the other toward the office block.

After a couple minutes, team one reported "Clear!"

"Dr. MacKenzie is down," said the captain of team two.

The soldiers rushed over to her prone form and checked her out. A large red circle was visible in the middle of her forehead.

"She's fine…gel round. She'll wake up with a nasty headache, though."

"Building's clear, sir. The suspect has already vacated," one soldier reported.

"Alright, thanks Jensen. Frag! The powers that be are going to be pissed."

"I wonder why he didn't kill her." Jensen wondered aloud. "She could ID him in the future…"

"I've given up trying to understand shadowrunners," the commander said. "They're a bunch of reckless hoodlums that seem to think that they have their own code of honor. After all, who ever heard of a runner known for keeping their word?"