A/N: This story started as a simple enough idea and a question: How do you get a programmer to do what you want? The result triggered a series of questions: Modern or Futuristic? Original Characters or Existing/Fan fiction-able series? ... paper or plastic?. You get the idea. What came about was a story that has taken over my writing and now tops the scales at 350 pages and I haven't gotten to the final show down... So... I will be publishing what is written at a rate of 1 chapter a week, which will give me time to a) finish it b) finish my National Novel Writing Month challenge () get back to my other ongoing projects that this story superseded. Please, let me know what you think.
Intro: Long before I wrote here, I wrote Shadowrun fanfiction (and a few others on different sites). There the world I wrote in was created and I supplied the characters. This is my first cross over between the two worlds of fanfiction: Game fiction and Losers Fiction.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan-fiction. It is not meant to claim rights or infringe upon the copyrights of the originators or copyright holders of Shadowrun (Now held by Catalyst Games I believe) or the Losers - Comic book or movie franchises -Vertigo Comics, Andy Diggle, Warner Brothers.
Within the first 5 minutes of the movie, my first thought was: "This is Shadowrun!" well... now it is.
For those not familiar with the Losers: You have a team of four special ops soldiers who are framed /supposedly killed in action and looking for paybacks.
For those not familiar with Shadowrun: You have a world on the edge of... all sorts of things. The world is run by Corporations, Magic has returned as have the races of fantasy. The year is 2059 and beyond and the internet has long been replaced by a 3D matrix with full emersion: to access it programmers (deckers) use a deck that plugs directly into their brain the world within is controled by the decker - with 3d representations of data and actions: It could look like a cartoon; a film noir... almost anything imaginable and a few, bend the imagery and data to their will.
It's a match made in writing heaven. So sit back, and enjoy!
Call it what you want, deadlock, deadly embrace, or a double-triggered cyclic proximity transmitting safety device, to Jensen it meant one thing and one thing only: he was royally fragged.
It took everything he had not to start clawing at the device when the recovery room nurse smiled at him. As his hand reached reflexively to the incision point he felt a hand gently pull it back down and pat it sympathetically.
"Next time we get summoned to the hospital for briefing... just shoot me."
The man next to him laughed, but it never reached his eyes. No, he was not happy about this either.
"We will get you out of this," he assured Jensen His words sounded more like a promise than an assurance and it seemed to help.
"How?" Jensen asked in a resigned tone. "You die... boom... we get too far apart... boom... someone in a room thinks we're going haywire... you get the idea."
"Yeah, but it's not your head that goes 'boom."
Cougar looked at him, his expression saying it all- if Jensen's head did go boom, those responsible would die in much the same manner.
It was something.
The briefing room was dimly lit. The company man sat at the front table along with his bodyguard and a pair of cybered Samurai flanking him for effect. At the other end of the table sat a liaison officer from the military's intelligence branch.
Three soldiers entered the room. Their uniforms were worn, but crisp. Everything was as it should be- unless of course you were one of the soldiers in question. Two of their members were missing and their leader was not happy about it.
Looking at them, the company man realized, none of them were. Well, the assignment wasn't for them to like or not, and everything they'd done had been within acceptable parameters, and while the potential loss of two trained resource such as Corporal Jensen and Sergeant Alvarez weren't without cost- ultimately it came down to the fact that Jensen was the decker with the skills they needed and the best chance of accomplishing the mission- even if his odds of making it back were... less than optimal.
The trio moved as a unit, their leader entering and stepping to the left as soon as he cleared the door. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the room and assessed the threat.
'Company man, non-military,' he sub vocalized into the team's secure comm unit as his second in command and their transportation officer both entered and stepped to the right of the doorway. Though their side arms remained holstered, there was no mistaking the threat these men posed.
'This can't be good,' his second in command agreed.
'Any sign of the others?'
They spoke freely over the encrypted line knowing the only one who could break their decryption was the man who'd designed it: a man who was blatantly missing from the briefing room.
"What have you done with my men?" The leader spoke with the authority of a man used to having his orders followed.
The intel officer smiled as the company man shifted in his seat. He hated the company man with a passion. He and men like him had turned the military into their own little chess board where everything came down to the bottom line.
He was proud of the Colonel and his men as they took the room. There was no other way to describe it. They didn't enter it nearly as much as maneuvered their way in and took control. Let the pencil pusher chew on that for a while.
The company man shifted slightly as he compared the men who'd just entered the briefing room with their dossiers
Their leader, Colonel Clay was easy enough to recognize. His graying hair was close cropped, and unlike the intel-photos from the field, his face was clean-shaven. His second in command, a night one, was equally notable: a fine coat of indigo fur only seemed to accent the telltale mensur scar that trailed down the right side of his face. The scar only added to the barely hidden air of danger that surrounded the man. To those who knew the origin of the scar, it spoke of power and strength: a man would unflinchingly face an armed opponent and exchange bladed blows until one or both of them were injured.
He knew he would have to keep an eye on these two, but from the looks of the team's file even the most mundane looking one of the group, one Sergeant Porteous was hell on wheels- literally. The man was rigged to use every vehicle the armed services provided with nothing more than a thought.
No, he would have to watch all of these men very closely.
When the man made no move to answer his question, Colonel Clay strode forward to meet the company man head on.
"Let me make this easy for you. We are a team, a military unit. We've trained together; we work together as a unit. When you start messing with the team members, you mess with the team and that does very little for our comfort level, let alone our ability to function as a team."
The company man stood, trying to take the wind out of his sails before he took control of the meeting.
"Col. Clay, you and your men are here as a courtesy. You have no part in this mission- other than allowing us to use two of your team members... please keep that in mind and remain civil."
"Oh, I assure you sir, this is Civil," Clay answered, as he began double talking to his team. 'Roque, I need a perimeter sweep. Pooch, cover him then switch, copy?'
Neither man answered, preferring to act rather than waste time. Roque sat down while Pooch stood guard. After a few minutes they switched places.
Clay knew that the magical sweep would require Roque's full attention and used that time to distract the company man. They needed answers. He was, after all, the team leader and as such didn't like being kept in the dark, and he really didn't like having two of his men told to report to the 'lab' for enhancements.
"Your men are perfectly safe, and I've been told the procedures were a success."
"A success?" Clay asked in disbelief. "Jensen has enough hardware in his head to set off metal detectors, and Alvarez is a physical adept... you don't 'enhance' a phys-ad unless you want to seriously screw him over. So unless you're planning on screwing over my men... Success isn't one of the words I'd use."
"Relax Colonel, Alvarez was simply implanted with a heart monitor and transmitter. Nothing that will mess with his natural abilities."
Clay tensed. The way the man worded it, the way he spoke of Alvarez and didn't mention Jensen... something was very wrong and he knew none of them were going to like it.
'Have you found them?' he sub-vocalized to his team.
'Affirmative... They're almost here... and they are not happy...' Roque's answer seemed to echo in his ear.
'Don't know for sure, but judging by their auras... they want to kill someone.'
Clay tilted his head and then turned on his heels and headed for the door. "Keep an eye on him," he ordered as he strode through the door.
Clay didn't have to be a mage to know something was up as soon as he saw his men. Jensen's usual bounce was missing from his stride and Cougar seemed to be doing his best to be the man's shadow.
Knowing he wouldn't get any answers out of the phys-ad, he turned instead to the team's decker. "Jensen... report"
Jensen looked at him and shook his head. "Sucks to be me day."
Clay looked at him then nodded to Cougar. "Cougar, report to the briefing room. Roque will fill you in." Something told him Jensen had a lot more on his mind and may not want an audience.
"Can't boss." Cougar answered in a low voice.
"That was an order..."
Cougar looked up, his eyes meeting Clays head on, pleading. "No sir, I am now... his keeper."
Clay looked at him, trying to put it all together and when he did he did an about face and stormed back into the conference room.
'Heart monitor with a transmitter my ass!' he thought as he felt his blood pressure rising faster than he could dissipate the energy.
"You deadlocked my men!" he demanded upon his re-entry.
He didn't stop as he moved past his men, knowing full well they would flank him and help him no matter what. Jensen and Cougar remained together, unsure of the limits the device put on them and not really wanting to test it.
The company man smiled as Clay returned followed by the last two members of his team, The Losers. Jensen was easy enough to recognize with his blond spiky hair, goatee and glasses. Truth be told his current appearance completely matched the pictures in his folder. Alvarez, on the other hand, was sporting hair far longer than military spec somehow managed to look like the inverse book end to his teammate: tanned skin to Jensen's pale tones, dark hair to Jensen's blond. They were a study in contrasts.
He steepled his fingers and smiled. It would have been so much easier if they had worked with him, but he knew there was more than one way to 'deadlock a team.'
"I thought you might feel this way Col. But what's done is done... We need a man with the Corporal's skill set and ... well... we can't risk him falling into enemy hands. What he knows would be damaging enough... but the encryption that's built into his head... no... we can't risk that falling into enemy hands. I'm sure you can understand my position."
Clay drew his gun and aimed it at the man's head. "No, I really can't."
The company man smiled. "Allow me to direct your attention to Sergeant Alvarez..."
Despite himself Clay turned and snarled when he saw the tell-laser sight dot centered over Cougar's heart.
"One shot... they're both gone and neither of us get what we want. Now if you're done playing games..." On his signal 5 corporate MP's entered the briefing room.
"I have a briefing to run."
Clay saw the resigned look on Jensen's face, and the barely hidden look of contempt Cougar spared to the corper playing with their lives. He also saw the hint of a smile cross the phys-ad's face as he thought about having said corper in his sights.
He nodded. They'd play along for now- move when their chances were better.
The intel operative knew the moment Clay had resigned himself and his men to the situation. He also knew that this was far from over and no matter how the mission went, there would be repercussions. He prayed he wasn't anywhere nearby when it did.
The corporate man smiled. These military types were so predictable. Even in the day of physical enhancements, they were still easy to manipulate.
"As you may or may not know there has been talk of certain weapons reaching the Yakuza through Amazonia."
"Intelligence was able to get a man in with the cell providing the weapons, but it seems one Oyabun in particular is looking to expand their control of Cal Free State. While CalFree is not our problem... these weapons are.
"We know he keeps his systems isolated, and therefore we need to take a decker to the site. He needs to be able to speak Japanese and your man is tailor made for this mission."
"And the Deadlock?" Clay asked, letting his anger color his voice.
"Consider it an insurance policy... The last thing any of us want is your man falling into the wrong hands... That's why we paired him with your team's sniper... we figured a friend would make a better traveling companion..."
He smiled, making sure they all knew just how considerate he'd been in choosing the man who would serve as the decker's protection and yes, if need be executioner. Regrettable... but at least it would be a friend.
Clay smiled at the quantity and quality of Spanish explicatives that came from Cougar and were echoed in no less than seven other languages by the rest of the team.
"You really didn't think this out did you?"
The corporate man smiled. "Col, I assure you- I have thought this out thoroughly and your men have the best chance of accomplishing this task."
The Intel man winced slightly but held his tongue. Telling the Suit that if their man didn't make it back, he'd never live to see the next day would only serve to warn the corper to take pre-emptive action and he was with the Col. on this.
The corper simply smiled and nodded to the MPs. "Colonel, you and your men are under arrest... consider it... incentive for your men to finish their assigned task.
He turned towards Cougar and Jensen. "I wouldn't want you two... getting lost on your way to the rendezvous point."
Jensen and Cougar stood ready to strike on the Col's command, but the command never came. Instead he stood and nodded to them. "Do what you have to do," he said making it clear that if they ran, he'd understand and accept the consequences.
As they were led away each man met their gaze and nodded, the family would stick by them no matter what.
After the others had been escorted from the room, Cougar looked Jensen in the eyes. This was killing him, but he didn't know if he could follow through with what was to come.
Jensen simply shrugged. "How's the pizza in Amazonia?"
Cougar smiled and nodded, accepting Jensen's decision. They would finish the mission and then, they would deal with the suit.