Beware of Dog.

Beware of Dog.
by David Graves
copyright May 10, 1995

You know, you always hear about shadowrunners on the trid, but I never thought I'd ever meet one in person, let alone be the target of one. Even though my boss had told me I was a target, and my research in bio-genetics was desired by several of our competitors, I still thought that all the cybernetic and biogenic modifications were a waste of company resources. But they came in handy.
One night I was walking through the company parking lot at the archology. It was late, and I was thinking about my research. I wasn't paying any attention to what was going on around me. After all I was safe in the archology, right?
Wrong. A van pulled up beside me and the door opened. This big orc reached out and grabbed me. I didn't even have time to yell, before a rag was placed over my mouth, and I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness.
When I came to I was in what they call a safe house on the trid. I did not feel safe at all, however. The room had no windows, and only a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. The place smelled like garbage, and I thought for sure it was going to fall down around my ears. I knew I had to get out.
Then I remembered the chips. In fingertip compartments, I had four chips. My boss had called them "Survival chips." If I would ever need them, it was now. I slipped them into the little slots at the base of my skull. New thoughts flashed through my mind. With these chips, I would know how to fight, and where to run. I could escape and make my way back to my safe corporate haven. I examined my situation and decided I needed to arm myself.
Soon the door to my little prison cell opened, and the orc who had grabbed me walked in, carrying some sort of small machine-gun. He ordered me to stand, and approached me. As I stood, I grabbed the gun, and brought my knee up into his elbow. I heard a satisfying crack, and he let go of the gun, and started to howl. He never got the chance, as I brought the gun down on the back of his neck. He collapsed with a thud.
I had no idea how many others were in on this with the orc, but I was not going to stand around and count heads. I flew out of the door while I still had surprise on my side. I seemed to be flying almost. I had never moved this fast in my life.
As I cleared the door I saw three other people. One was plugged into a computer and blind to the world. The other two were leaning up against a counter talking. They each had a gun like the one I now had. I pumped two rounds into the decker, and sprayed three more at the two gun toting goons. They dove for cover. I spotted what looked like the main door and went for it. It lead to a hall way. Some old apartment complex. I ran down one way, and saw an old broken out window. I jumped out of it without looking. That was a mistake. I was on the second floor. The chips kicked in and told me how to break my fall, but they can only do so much. I rolled through my fall, and twisted my ankle. I hobbled quickly into another building.
What little I had seen of the outside told me that I was in one of the barrens. I had no idea where to go, but I needed a vidphone. I was willing to bet my last nuyen that I wouldn't find a phone booth that worked in this neighborhood, and I certainly wouldn't find a cab. So I had to keep moving. Now I had the advantage. They had to find me, and they had no idea where I was going to go. Hell I had no idea where I was going to go!
I kept moving through the building I was in, which seemed to be another apartment building. Some of the apartments had no doors, and in one case I saw a body lying on the floor. Nice neighborhood I thought wryly. I kept moving until I came to a set of stairs. I went up them, then realized that that was the wrong move. I didn't want to get caught up stairs again. As I reached the first landing, I continued to run and took off down a hall. I turned to look out one of the windows, and saw another building. The window was broken out, and I noticed that there was a balcony on the other building. I turned on instinct and leaped out the window, landing on the balcony, and rolling through a doorway into the dark interior of the building. That should give me some breathing room I thought.
I lay there a moment marveling at my new found abilities. I never would have dreamed I was capable of the feats I was performing, yet I had done them without thinking. There seemed to no limit to my abilities. I could do anything.
I got up and listened a moment. I heard sounds of movement and voices through out the building, but none sounded urgent, as if my pursuers had followed me. I was in the clear for now. But I had to keep moving. I needed to find a landmark or something to let me know what direction I needed to run. Or I needed a guide. I looked in my pockets. My wallet and my cred-stick were both missing. Well that made sense. Then I checked gun. It had a clip that fed into the bottom of it. I pulled it out and counted the bullets. Twenty some odd rounds left. Not much. But at the moment it was my only resource.
First I needed to change my clothes. Around here, my Armani suit stood out like a peacock among the chickens. It also made me a target for any chip-head or junkie looking for a fix. Since I doubted that I would find any clothing stores around here, I would have to scrounge some. Easy enough. I started listening at a few doors. When I heard noises, I pushed one open.
Inside was an old man. He looked up at me with fear in his eyes. "Hey old man," I said "I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to get some clothes. I'll trade you mine for some of yours."
It took a few minutes to get him to understand what I wanted, and that I wasn't going to hurt him. Finally he came up with an old set of coveralls that was too short, and a long ragged coat. He looked at my suit with longing in his eyes. "A deal is a deal," I muttered. Then I handed him the suit. It would probably feed him for a month at least. Then I headed out.
I looked around cautiously as I went out into the street. No one seemed to be looking, so I walked out with my head down. I just started walking, figuring that if I walked straight I would eventually find my way out. I had walked about three blocks when I saw a couple of kids hanging out. From the way they were all dressed the same, I figured they must be a gang. I tucked my gun in the back of my jacket and kept walking. As I approached them, I kept my hands out so they could see I wasn't going to pull a gun on them. They stopped talking as I approached.
"Hoi chummer," on of them sneered. "I thinks you need to keep walking. This is our corner."
"I need some help." I stated simply. They seemed surprised at something. I realized that it was the way I spoke. I looked like a squatter, but I talked like a corporate.
"Help is for friends, chummer, and you ain't one. You want service, you pay for it. You got any cred?"
"No, but if you can get me to a vidphone, I'll get me a ride, and a little 'reimbursement' for your help." I explained reasonably.
"Do I look like a bank, chummer! Cash on hand, I don't give credit. Especially to bums, give no care to how fancy they talk." He pulled out a blade. "Now get out of my turf, before I turn you into sidewalk art!" He stepped forward menacingly.
I raised my hands, and started backing away. I could probably take these punks, but I needed what little ammunition I had left.
Suddenly, the punk seemed to fall backwards. There was a small dart in his chest. I looked behind me and saw one of the goons I had seen in the apartment with some sort of rifle. He was pointing it at me. I ran, and the chips told me to dodge from side to side. I heard a thunk, and saw another dart hit the wall next to me. I pulled out my gun and sprayed a few rounds over my shoulder. The goon ducked back behind a wall, and I kept running.
I ran down several alleys and climbed a couple fences before I stopped. I was breathing heavy and my heart was pounding. I felt a distant pain in my ankle. I forced myself to be quiet and slipped into another building. This one seemed to have be through a fire. All the walls were water damaged, and some areas were collapsed completely. I made my way to a small room with a window, and watched from the shadows.
I needed to get some more breathing room from these fraggers. I would never make it downtown if I was only one step ahead of them. I had to slow them down. Suddenly I had an idea. I looked around and found the stairs going up. I climbed three flights, then found a balcony. I used the balcony to climb up on to the roof. It was not very steady, and there were several holes I had to avoid, but I stayed low and watched for my pursuers.
I did not have to wait long. Soon I saw two people moving down the sidewalk, near the building I was on. One was the goon who had shot the ganger. The other was the other scrag I had seen back at the apartment. Both carried the same odd looking rifles. The chips identified them for me. Narco-jects. Designed to inject the target, usually with some kind of knock out drug. They still wanted me alive. That was fine, I wanted me alive too.
I leaned over the edge, and brought my gun on line with one of them. Just as I pulled the trigger, his head snapped up and he saw me. He jumped back and the bullets tore into his leg, instead of his head, like I had planned. Suddenly I felt my back awash with fire. It was as if I had been in a ball of flame that just appeared out of nowhere. One of them was a mage! I rolled out of site, and crashed through the roof, into on of the ruined apartments.
I rolled on the floor for a moment, to make sure that the fire was out. I could smell burned hair, and flesh, but I felt no pain. Must be one of the things they put in me for this kind of emergency. I listened, and heard some voices coming into the building. They were searching for me. I rolled onto my front, and brought my gun around toward the door. I would wait for them to come in, and try and take them out.
I heard steps coming up the stairs. One seemed to drag a little. Good, I had done some damage from the roof. Then a moment of silence. I held my breath, praying that they wouldn't hear me. Then the footsteps resumed, coming my direction.

Suddenly one of their faces peered around the door. I pulled the trigger, and stitched the wall next to him. He pulled back. I missed the fragger! And I was running out of ammo. Suddenly one of the goons rolled in the door, to fast for me to get a bead on. I jumped to my feet and ran into the back room. Bullets slammed the wall next to me as I slid into the room. There was a balcony, and I went out onto it. I jumped down the fire escape, touching about every fifth rung to slow down my fall. Then I was on the street again. As I ran, I looked over my shoulder and fired at the window as the first of the goons came out after me. I had mixed luck. The goon shuddered, and fell off the landing, just as the weapon stopped firing. The clip was empty.
I turned and ran back toward the landing to get another gun. Just as I reached the body, the other goon looked out and saw me. I felt a wave of lethargy wash over me. I shook it off and grabbed the gun and ducked into cover from one of the other balconies.
I knew I was in bad shape. I had no idea how badly I was burned, and I still felt a little groggy from whatever that last spell the mage had thrown at me was. My only consolation was that I only had one more on my back. If I could take him out, I would be free. If I could take him out. He was a mage, after all.
I heard a cracking sound above me. I looked up and saw the balcony I was hiding under begin to sag. I ran out just as it crashed to the ground. I sprayed a few rounds at the window where I last saw the mage. He wasn't there. I kept running, and ran into the building across the street. I ran out the back, and just kept running. Panic was beginning to set in. After about a minute, I simply collapsed in one of the buildings. I couldn't make my body go anymore. I knew I was in bad shape, and needed to get to a hospital. But first I needed to get this mage off my back.
I lay there panting for about ten minutes, and then just lay there for another ten. I doubted that the mage was going building to building looking for me. He was waiting for me to move. So I rested. After a while I was able to sit up and look around. I seemed to be in an abandoned shopping center. It was divided up into sections, probably by the squatters, claiming their "Turf." I slowly got to my feet and looked around. I needed some water, and to wash off my back if I could.
I slowly limped to the back, and found the remains of the bathroom. The sinks were missing, but the spouts where water came out of the wall was still there, and still trickled water. I took some into my hands and splashed my face. Then I took off my jacket and poured some over my back. I noticed burned skin on the jacket, but the jacket was not burned through. I drank some water and carefully put the jacket back on.
Just then I heard the sound of a motorcycle engine. I looked out the bathroom door, and saw the mage on a Harley riding through the main entrance. I ducked around a corner quickly.
But not quickly enough. I heard the motorcycle rev up as it picked up speed. The mage was going to try to run me down. It was time to make a stand. I moved around a corner at full speed, and stopped. I checked the clip on my gun. Ten rounds left. I hoped it would be enough.
I raised my gun to fire as I heard the bike approach. I let off a burst just as the mage came into view. The mage was farther away than I thought, and the rounds went high. Suddenly I felt the gun ripped from my hands. It sailed through the air, and landed about thirty yards away. Since the mage was between me and the gun, I went the other direction.
I found a flight of stairs and ran up them as fast as I could. When I got to the top, I saw that several squatters had rigged an a curtain using some old cord and some sheets. I quickly ripped this down and found a long open area. I strung the cord about chest high and hoped the mage would bring his bike up here.
I heard the engine roar as the mage came to the last step of the old escalator. Now I had to try to lure him into my trap. I moved away from the rope, and tried to keep track of where he was. When he was a good distance away, I knocked over an old rack. It crashed loudly. The cycle stopped and turned, coming my way. I ran to the other side of my cord. I saw the bike and I ran a few feet, and then turned, keeping myself out of sight.
The mage picked up speed trying to keep up with me. Then He saw the cord. He ducked but too late. It caught him across the forehead, and yanked him off the bike. The bike went over and slid down the aisle. The mage slid too, and dropped his gun. It slid into on of the racks near me. I ran over and grabbed it up. Just as the mage started to get to his feet, I opened up on him. The bullets stitched him through the leg, and I walked it up to his head. He fell to the ground. I walked up , put the barrel to his head, and fired the last three rounds in the clip. Then I went to the motorcycle.
It had not been damaged much, and I had ridden before. I nearly lost it going down that escalator, but eventually I got it down on the street. Then I just started ridding. Eventually I found my way out of the barrens, and flagged down the first cop I found. He was a little suspicious, but he called me an ambulance. They took me to Seattle General Hospital, and I called my supervisor, to let him know where I was.
The next thing I remember it was three weeks later. The burns on my back and neck had scarred, but healed. My leg, which I had broken by running on a twisted ankle, was in a cast, and would eventually be as good as new. And I was going home.
You know, I guess it's like my grandmother used to say, "No matter how harmless he seems, beware of the dog." Because you never know when he might turn and bite.

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