A/N I primarily GM in shadowrun; and one of the things I do is to work out a number of other teams working the same patch as my players. That gives room for interaction, rivalry and even compromise. I have an idea what runs my other teams have pulled, how successful they were and what their rep it. This is an intro for one of those teams though I don't say that incidents and cool one liners from PCs might not creep in. On the whole I like to keep playing and writing separate. When we play we go for the heavily mystical side with a player preference for Earthdawn crossover. What I write about 'other' teams – which is all scrawled in dead tree format in an old diary – is more mainstream. By the way we play 2E so that's the version of the rules I also write by.
Captain Beaky and his Band
Out of the window of the apartment in Tacoma the head of Mount Rainier was visible above the haze like some magical island floating in the sky, all blue and white, shadow on snow, black scars turned grey in the mist where the slopes were too steep for the snow to hold.
It looked benign; even beautiful.
It could be hard to believe that its eruption had wiped out huge swathes of the sprawl.
Runs were like that sometimes; just the tip that Johnson chose to reveal to you, never the whole picture and certainly no idea of any dark history that might make a run harder….
Captain Beaky turned his hawk-like gaze from the window and surveyed the other five in the team through his almond shaped Japanese eyes. He looked completely normal; if one did not know he was a shadowrunner they would never guess that under his neat haori-style business jacket he was wired to the hilt. Even his Zeiss cyber eyes were a standard brown and looked quite ordinary. Only the keen piercing look that emphasised his aquiline features might give the average sarariman some qualms.
"Any more questions?" he asked.
"Plenty" said F'lansopra, who might be an elf but who preferred to be taken for a Vulcan. He was the least conventionally dressed of the team in that he was wearing Starfleet uniform. "Melter got enough pics to prove that this Johnson is no more nor less than the CEO of the company he wants us to break into to take and wipe all the records. Now if you ask me that makes the whole damn run break open into questions. Like I told you, his aura was one big mass of prevarication if not outright lies."
"I agree with F'lan" nodded Drider, the other elf on the team, a samurai. "And I don't mind taking risk for gain but not until I know what hidden risks we might be against" and he pushed back the silver hair that was his only concession to visible modifications, chosen to contrast with his dark skin. His pewter grey suit was both heavy and thick over his enhanced body; and his tie had Brahms lullaby in silver notes on a black tie, because when Drider hit someone they were going to go to sleep.
"I expect he's just trying to test his own defences and we may have to have a backup plan to get out in one piece" suggested Topdog, the third Sammie on the team. Being uncomfortable in a suit he dressed casually.
"And maybe it's something more" said Acehigh.
"Well you'll be well out of danger as usual, out of reach" said Topdog with a sneer.
"I shall be watching your backs and heaving your sorry asses out of trouble" said Acehigh. "And as I recall I was the one who spent all day yesterday in a gillie suit staking the place out and getting the photos with a camera rifle for Melter to analyse."
"I – I don't think we ought to go on w-with this run guys" said Melter, looking up from his cyberdeck "I identified some of the chummers going into Willis Investment. And they're IRS."
"THAT puts a rather different complexion on it" said Beaky, intent. This was the hidden eruption; this was the reason for his unease. Good; when it was in the open risk assessment might be taken with the eyes open. "Has Johnson – or should I call him Robert Willis – been into his own firm during this time?" he asked.
"No, the geek got turned away at the gate" said Acehigh.
"In-ter-esting" said Beaky. "So; he's under investigation, and he wants the information wiped; which rather suggests some serious fraud going on here. Okay kids, that gives us three choices; because as Johnson hasn't been upfront with us it gives us leeway. One, we do exactly as he asked; get him the info and wipe all the computers and the standalone in his office; two we get the paydirt and then sell it to the IRS; or three, get the info and follow up the moneytrails for ourselves or sell it to other Johnsons to use."
"I'm with doing over the IRS by taking the stuff" said Drider "have you any idea the amount of purchase tax I had to pay on my cello?"
As Drider's idiosyncrasies ran to music and he had a collection of stringed instruments the way most samurai had collections of guns the rest of the team laughed.
"If you will by antique crap from Europe, what do you expect?" said F'lansopra mildly. "World's smallest violin playing just for you. Not that I have anything against stiffing the IRS mind; although I can't say that I actually pay tax."
"But keep a copy of all the data anyhow" said Acehigh. "Your big moment, Melter."
"I h-hate it when people say th-that" said Melter.
"I'll be with you all the way" said Drider "And it isn't going to be my violin or cello that I take but my AK; and that sings a sweeter music on a job."
Willis Investment was to be found in a discreet office off South Weller street, just the up side of the I5; there were bushes, small trees and landscaping around it; as well as the chainlink fance.
Willis was a cheapskate; the fence was not electrified, had a couple of strands of razorwire at the top; and the dogs which patrolled were ordinary American Dobermans. No Hell Hounds; and the pups were not even, F'lansopra had determined by peering at their auras, cybered up.
"Unless they're initiates" he added with black humour.
Drider poked him.
The plan was simple enough; because, as Beaky contended, simple plans were less likely to go wrong; and were more easily adaptive. Acehigh would take a position on the I5's raised coign of vantage to drop tranquiliser slugs in the dogs and their handler, stay as long as he felt he could get away with to cover the approach of his fellows then drive off before either the Star or the Ancients took any interest in him. It was quite a way to any intersection to peel of the Interstate at the James Street exit and he was effectively then out of it.
"And safe" said Topdog.
"Topdog, you are becoming an irritant" said Beaky "If you like the idea of maybe being chased all round Seattle by the Ancients and consider that safe maybe you should have become a sniper. Acehigh's job keeps the rest of us safer. Of course if you'd rather he was with us and you would like to handle the dogs, and the subsequent excitement of the cops turning up because so noisy an entrance means alarms were set off….."
Topdog scowled but held his peace.
Beaky was charismatic enough to subdue him even without so sarcastic a piece of logic; but Beaky noted to himself that Topdog resented his leadership; and had trouble with the idea that an intelligently planned run should leave the samurai in the group with nothing to do. He was too gung-ho; it was time to consider losing him from the team before he jeopardised everyone by his foolishness.
While Acehigh got into position the rest of the team lurked on the side of Tenth Avenue, taking advantage of both scrubby bushes and the deep shadows of the high concrete flyover that was the I5. F'lansopra had optical binoculars watching the auras of the targets from the top of the unmarked van they had driven up in; and presently he waved a hand.
They belted across the road, quiet at this hour , even in the city that rarely slept. Wire cutters made short work of the compound fence; and Drider rolled it up to let everyone through before him, before rolling it back as soon as he was in so that a casual glance would not show anything out of the ordinary. It was foggy too – not uncommon in Seattle especially in the Fall – and Beaky mentally raised a hat to Acehigh both for insisting on the purchase of the infra-red sight for his rifle and for his skill on hitting the bodies of dogs and handler on heat alone. His own eyes coped perfectly well; but it gave them an advantage against the unmodified eyes of some unfortuitous patrolling Star vehicle. They had picked that part of the perimeter with the most shrubs to hide them from the security cameras; anyone with sense would have had his shrubbery well pruned, but Robert Willis seemed to be all round careless. Seemed to be. Beaky went first, feeling gently before him with a small metal detector which would touch any tripwires even if it could not detect them; and would find any pressure sensors. It was unlikely that there would be either; the dogs would be too likely to set them off, as Topdog had already pointed out; but Beaky had smiled gently and murmured that a paranoid shadowrunner was a live shadowrunner.
One more thing to do from a distance; and that was Beaky's job. The security cameras were at a poor angle for Acehigh to deal with them; so Beaky hefted his air rifle, loaded with the carefully prepared shell.
It flew straight and true.
The shell was loaded with a special concoction of Acehigh's; a combination of glues and powders that only he knew which resembled bird cac to look at and which stuck like love-from-above on a camera lens. And there were owls around here; it was not out of the realms of possibility.
Drider was at Melter's back; the little decker was sweating. One day, when they had good enough kit for him, and a satellite uplink for his deck, Beaky promised himself, the team should take in satellite uplinks to drop onto any computer, stand alone though they might be, for Melter to never have to stir out of his own apartment. It was not entirely the physical fear of meeting opposition; Beaky was fairly certain that Melter was actually agoraphobic. And he gave the decker respect for coming along with the team anyway. Drider had escorted him up to the door as soon as the cac shell had been fired; Melter was attaching wires to the maglock now; tapping away at his deck, solving the algorithm of its code; then a quick four taps more and he was pushing on the door.
"In we go!" he said, sounding happier.
Melter was always happier under cover and in a relatively enclosed space; and for that matter nowhere near people. This building should be deserted apart from the odd security guard.
The sec guard should be in his room with the video links. His patrol, according to the dodgy intelligence from Willis, tended to be an hourly matter of taking a ten minute stroll around the building, extended every other time by a visit to the staff canteen for a cup of coffee from the machine. F'lan, backed by Beaky, had the task of dealing with him; and the mage had a dedicated focus for sleep spells. It seemed, after all, little point in putting out the opposition if it put the mage out too.
F'lan prepared himself; and then Beaky knocked sharply on the door of the sec station.
There were sounds of grumbling within that Beaky's enhanced hearing picked up; then the door opened.
F'lansopra merged auras and let fly with the spell right over Beaky's shoulder.
The guard dropped in a heap. Beaky left the elf mage to sink into a squat to gather his reserves; he was only lightly stunned from casting the spell but a few minutes rest would do him no harm while Beaky tied up the guard for good measure. They would collect him when they had set the charges to destroy the data; Beaky preferred to leave a zero collateral on a job.
It should be downhill all the way now.
The team were not expecting the lights to be on and a woman to be working at a console in the data room.
"H-holy shit, it's one of the F-Feds" said Melter.
Beaky chopped sharply down on Topdog's arm as the sammy raised his Ares Predator. His finger had been tightening on the trigger. Beaky knew Topdog's shoot first worry about consequences after policy; it was a bone of contention between them.
"Sorry lady; but we need you to put your hands where we can see them" said Beaky.
The woman raised her hands slowly.
"If you harm a federal agent you are not going to be happy" she said "The agency WILL hunt you down."
"We don't want to hurt anyone" said Beaky "Only amateurs leave a pile of bodies behind them. Step away from the computer; is there anyone else here with you?"
"No" said the woman. "Only the guard."
"Truth" said F'lansopra.
"Tie her up" said Beaky who had his tranqgun on her.
F'lansopra did so.
"And behave easy lady, or we get to rape you and then shoot you" hissed Topdog.
"My apologies, ma'am" said Beaky smoothly "Our temporary associate appears to have suffered a rush of testosterone to what he laughingly refers to as his brain. He's going to apologise."
"No I'm bloody not" said Topdog "You poncy little Nip, always acting like some finicky maiden aunt; we're shadowrunners not rakking gentlemen adventurers. Where does you effing about talking like a corporate get anyone?"
"Rich and still alive to enjoy it" said Beaky "We'll argue about this later TD; this is not the time or the place."
"Yes it effing is!" Topdog started to raise his gun again.
Drider kicked his legs out from under him from behind, rabbit punched him and used some of the cord they had brought to secure prisoners to tie the groggy samurai up.
"Cheers" said Beaky with a nod to his colleague.
"Unprofessional little twat" said F'lansopra.
Melter meanwhile went to work; and was methodically downloading everything. Beaky checked that both the woman and Topdog were secured; then went to do his secondary job.
The internal cameras were not under scrutiny of the nightguard; but they were still recording. And as the idea was to demolish the place anyway blowing up the recorded sec data seemed a good idea too. They might be wearing masks but a clever and dedicated Fed nerd might be able to come up with more details than the team would be happy with. Beaky hummed to himself as he set the charges; they were tied to a throwaway phone. And the phones he was using had been bought at three different stores; no point being stupid enough to have sequential numbers that might be traced; store keepers noticed people who bought three phones at once. Having set all his charges, he picked up the groggy sec guard in a fireman's lift and deposited him near the door they had come in by.
Back in the data room, Drider had gagged Topdog; presumably he had been being offensive. Melter was looking moderately relaxed; and Beaky went to work with his C6 in here. It did not take much – if you knew what you were doing. Beaky had learned demolitions the military way during time as a mercenary.
He had seen enough killing and violence. In some respects it was all he knew; but running the shadows gave the opportunity to avoid killing with a well planned job.
And to make sure that if a killing was necessary it was done with efficiency and despatch, Beaky carried an Ingram M10 for its versatility and ability to deliver burst fire; because you never knew when you might need it.
The boom from near the front door suggested that they would need it.
"Melter, look through the sec cameras and tell me what's coming" said Beaky casually. Drider had hefted his AK and gone to the door.
"Th-they've driven a truck in the f-front" said Melter "Th-there's a troll and a couple of cyberthugs who have t-too much chrome to guess at a race but n-nominaly primate….p-probably. And a decker."
"The little rat hired a second team" said Beaky. "Hurry up with the downloads, Melter; I'd rather like to withdraw and leave our surprises for this new bunch."
"T-too late; ETA 30 seconds" said Melter "But I have the shit in my deck."
"Okay, you go out the door we came in at – through that door, go past the clean room and turn right and you'll be back where the sec guard is left by the side door" said Beaky.
Melter did not need a second invitation, but hared off. Beaky opened the door right in the surprised face of a troll, let fly with a burst of lead from his Ingram that at that range might even hurt a troll a little and kicked the door to.
"Grab TD; F'lan take the woman; I'll cover" said Drider.
Beaky nodded; Drider was far and away better with his AK than anyone else in the team.
F'lan had muttered something about leaving Topdog to greet the visitors because he'd have to fight as they'd not be about to negotiate, even if Topdog could manage to spell the word; but did as he was bid anyway. Beaky slung Topdog over one shoulder, still making protesting noises.
"Can it or I leave you here" said Beaky.
Topdog knew the destructive power of Beaky's explosives; he subsided into sullen silence.
Drider's AK spoke behind them; then the powerful black elf came somersaulting in a hurry through the door.
"Frag grenade" he said tersely. "RUN!"
There was a BOOM behind them.
Beaky winced slightly; but by some miracle it had not set off his own offerings to mayhem.
Of course his charges were very precise.
They charged for their own exit; and Beaky gave a pleased smile. Melter had stopped to drag the sec guard out with him.
They caught up with him at the bushes, the guard now awake and scared.
The troll burst through the door.
"Drider" said Beaky "I have a phone call to make."
The AK97 chattered menacingly and the Troll staggered under the concentrated fire, his flack jacket and tough hide not enough to totally absorb well placed clusters of fire. Beaky dialled a number, swiftly followed by another; and shortly there were two dull CRUMP noises.
"Time to get out of here" said Beaky "Ma'am; in exchange for our part being left out of it, I can give you the time and place that Willis will take receipt of this information."
She frowned in thought.
"Done" she said. "I owe you my life; you didn't have to bring me along. Restrained runners like you might just find the FBI good employers too from time to time."
"And probably less likely to stiff us" said Beaky sardonically.
"Did you get it? The explosion made the news; I see you lost some of your team in it" said Willis.
"Oh no, creep; those were the second team you sent in" said Beaky "But here's the stuff."
"What? Why would I send in a second team?" said Willis.
Beaky started. Had the little creep NOT double crossed them?
He'd lied from the beginning however; no reason to believe him now.
"Just give me the cred" said Beaky "And I'll give you the data."
Willis took the certified cred stick from a pocket. Beaky slotted it into a reader to check how much was on it; and nodded in satisfaction. He passed over a chip.
"Robert Willis you are under arrest for fraud, income tax evasion and collateral manslaughter by agent" said the federal agent who had stepped out of the shadows.
Beaky took a fade.
He also took the credstick.
"So what if it wasn't him hired the other team?" asked F'lansopra later.
"Then there's someone out there who values our backup copy of the information enough to pay handsomely for it as easier than taking it from us by force" said Beaky. "Melter; put out word. I want this stuff off your deck and out of our lives. It's explosive stuff."
"I'll s-say" said Melter "I s-scanned it; stupid little slag actually s-stitched up Same Tetsuo."
There was a horrified silence.
Any Yakuza boss is a fearsome entity even when he has not chosen an aggressive sort of surname like 'Shark'.
"Then contact him and offer the information as a gift" said Beaky.
The others nodded agreement; Topdog was not there to complain. They had left him in downtown, tied to a park bench.
Well this run was not going to net them any extras; but if they appeased Same Tesuo it might not get them dead.
A/N alright, so I nicked the cac shell off NCIS…. It was too brilliant not to use.