The Wrong Job
By: Jason Cline
The "meet", such as it was, took place at a coffee shop at noon. Nudging his way through the wageslaves queing up to spend ten nuyen on the latest batch of Starbucks soy-crap, Rabbit spotting his future employer sitting alone at a table in the corner with two Venti sized cups of some drek or the other steaming in front of her. One of the cups had Rabbit written in black marker along the top.
Grinning slightly, Rabbit slid into the seat opposite a smartly dressed human woman and gave her the once over. She was young, but how young was really impossible to tell, probably mid-twenties to early thirties. She was corp, that wasn't hard to tell at all, if her perfectly pressed clothing hadn't given it away the location of the meet certainly would have; the Starbucks on the corner of fifth and main practically in the shadow of the Novatech archology.
She was beautiful of course, what corp brat isn't, with shoulder length coal-black hair (probably not natural) and sparkling blue eyes (definitely not natural). There was something slightly off about her appearance however and it wasn't until viewing her in the astral that Rabbit put his finger on it, her aura was dimmer than it should be. There were all the dark spots he expected to find representing her time under the knife; as he expected the eyes weren't off the rack and she had some slight body mods, probably bioware, but nothing that would account for her dingy aura.
As Rabbit settled into his seat the woman across from him looked up from the table top where she was undoubtedly viewing something with her AR rig. She smiled politely, "Give me one second to finish this up will you?" she asked as she returned her attention to the table in front of her and whatever report was more important than her tablemate. As he waited Rabbit sipped at his latte and let his gaze wander across the corporate drones who filled the shop. Rabbit knew that each of them was viewing the world through a haze of semi-transparent windows filled with menus and news briefs and email from their bosses, the constant streaming information of Augmented Reality.
Shaking his head with a bemused smirk Rabbit turned back as the woman across the table from him looked up again and seemed to really see him for the first time since he sat down. The woman performed an almost comical double take and her face became suspicious. Rabbit wasn't surprised by the reaction dressed as he was in a light blue t-shirt with a faded Superman emblem on the chest tucked into green cargo pants and his shaggy white hair tucked up into a Seattle Seahawks baseball cap. He didn't exactly look like a street smart shadowrunner, more like someone's slightly annoying younger brother.
The woman recovered her composure quickly. "Thank you for meeting me here Mr. Rabbit."
Rabbit held up a hand, "Just Rabbit please…Mr. Rabbit is my father."
Frowning ever so slightly the woman continued. "Very well…I understand that you are available for hire. I have a business proposition for you if you are indeed as capable as I was lead to believe." This last bit was punctuated by a raised eyebrow which made it quite clear to Rabbit that she doubted his credentials.
Rabbit smiled in a way he was sure would irritate her and asked, "What kind of job are we talkin' about?"
The woman placed a chip on the table in front of her. "Nothing terribly difficult. I am being harassed by a former associate and I need someone to send him a message. On this chip is all the information that you will need. I will pay you one thousand nuyen if you can get him to back off."
Rabbit shrugged. "If this guy's hasslin' you why don't you go to Knight Errant and report him? Seems a lot easier than hirin' me?"
The woman frowned again seeming taken aback by the question. "Obviously I want this handled without involving the authorities." Narrowing her eyes she continued. "That seems like a very odd question for someone in your profession to ask…"
Rabbit's smile faltered slightly and he could feel color rising to his cheeks. "Well…let's just say I'm new to the profession. So you want me to have a talk with this guy and let him know you're not interested. That about right?"
She does not trust you. I told you that you should never have worn that ridiculous outfit.
"Correct…" the woman replied her face still clouded with suspicion. "I must say you're not at all what I pictured. Perhaps I made a mistake."
The woman began to reach for the chip on the table but Rabbit snatched it up. "Don't worry so much." he said with a smile. "I'll be in touch in a few days." Rabbit rose from the table a little too quickly and made his way through the crowd, when he was safely outside he grumbled to himself. "It wasn't the outfit okay…besides how else did you expect me to dress for a meet in the corporate sector?"
Regardless of the reason the maiden had no faith in your skills.
"Yeah well guess I'll show her eh?" Fishing the chip out of his pocket Rabbit smiled and flipped it into the air with his thumb. As the chip descended Rabbit snatched it out of the air and pocketed it.
Seventeen hours later Rabbit leaned casually against a wall in an upscale neighborhood in Aurora. Dawn was a hint on the horizon as Rabbit gazed across the street at the house of one Alonso Morris, the son of the late Dominic Morris an upper exec at Shaiwanese. Dominic's passing left young Alonso a great deal of yen and his financial acumen has allowed him to become a modern-day man of leisure. In addition to this information the chip his employer had given Rabbit contained a high quality holopic of Alonso as well as his daily routine.
The door of the brownstone opened and a young man of Greek heritage stepped out wearing a sleeveless black tee-shirt, black running pants and stark white tennis shoes. Alonso took a few moments to limber up and then set out at a moderate pace for what Rabbit knew would be his early morning 3 K jog. As the man turned the corner and disappeared from view Rabbit pushed himself off the wall and eyed the house.
Rabbit continued to watch the house for a few minutes; according to the information on the chip Alonso lived alone, but it never hurt to make sure. Ideally Rabbit would have projected his spirit into the Astral and entered the house to make sure no one was there, but Alonso was a smart one. Between the exterior and interior walls of the house was a layer of carefully nurtured lichen and moss that created an impenetrable barrier for an astrally projecting magician.
Satisfied that no one was about, Rabbit closed his eyes briefly and centered himself. In his mind Rabbit conjured an image of himself. Focusing his thoughts the young shaman pictured light bending around his thought-form and rendering it invisible. Holding the image in his mind, Rabbit infused the image with mana drawn from the world around him and made his thoughts reality. When Rabbit opened his eyes the world looked slightly blurry as though he was looking through old glass. The shaman smiled to himself.
Well done young one, your focus is improving. You called out for the mana of the world and the world responded. How do you feel?
"Pretty good actually." Rabbit replied. Turning to the street the elf moved quickly across to the front gate of Alonso's home. Confident that the hidden cameras and drones would not be able to physically detect him, Rabbit keyed the entrance code provided on his employer's chip into the keypad next to the foux wrought-iron fence that surrounded the house. With a click the gate popped open and Rabbit hurried through hoping that no one would notice the front gate of the home seemingly opening of its own accord.
Ignoring the front door, this apparently had a biometric lock which required a thumbprint to open, Rabbit made his way around to the back of the house. Stepping gingerly through a low hedge row Rabbit came to a patio area surrounded by a chest high brick wall. Maneuvering over the wall Rabbit found a large patio complete with swimming pool and hot tub.
If the information on the chip was correct…aha! A sliding glass door led from the pool area into the house. The door was polarized and about as close to glass as Rabbit was to a Troll, but a nearby keypad promised access to anyone who could enter the correct code. Rabbit fished a small crumpled piece of paper from his pocket and keyed in a much longer and more complicated code he had written on the paper while he was reviewing the specifics of the run back at his doss. According to his employer this code would allow access to the brownstone and would not show up on the access log. The red light on the keypad blipped green and the lock disengaged. Grinning to himself Rabbit slid the door aside just enough to squeeze through. Safely inside Alonso's home Rabbit dropped his invisibility spell and took a moment to study his surroundings.
The sliding door let into a hallway of ceramic tile, a half-open door to the left led to the bedroom where Rabbit could just make out the foot of a king sized bed. Further down the hall the brownstone opened up to a spacious living area with a recessed kitchen to the right. The front door opened into the living room so it was likely that Alonso would come through the front door when he returned. Rabbit slid the door shut behind him, a soft chime sounded as the lock re-engaged and he chuckled, "Well then…let's welcome him home shall we?"
Dawn's light was bathing Aurora in pink when Alonso Morris, breathing hard from his morning constitutional, pushed the door open. Alonso flipped the switch to bring on the lights and paused in confusion when the room remained dark. Frowning he flipped the switch a few more times before an unfamiliar voice from the darkness said. "Don't bother." Alonso froze. "Look down." The voice commanded. Alonso looked and found the red dot of a laser sight painting his chest. "Now…" the voice continued, "...let's talk."
Rabbit took a moment to relish the shocked look on Alonso's face before he continued. "Mr. Morris recently you have made several advances towards my client…I want those advances to stop." Rabbit smiled to himself as the man began trembling slightly, but his smile faded quickly as Alonso Morris began laughing. Alonso shook his head and took a step forward. Rabbits grip tightened on his pistol, it was a Colt America L36 that he had acquired from some gangers a month earlier. The pistol was more for show than anything else; there wasn't even a round in the chamber. "Don't move." Rabbit said in a way he hoped sounded menacing.
Alonso didn't stop; he made his way into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. "So tell me kid…who sent you?" Alonso asked; his voice was full and rich with just a hint of a Greek accent. Alonso returned to the living room with a bottle of water in his hand and dropped down on to his couch. Jerking his head towards the gun Alonso told Rabbit, "Put that thing away before you get hurt…it wont work on me anyway." Twisting the cap Alonso took a long drink of water and left Rabbit to fidget uncomfortably in his seat. Rabbit had positioned the recliner so that he could watch both the front door and the back door but with Alonso now sitting on the sofa he was forced to turn his body to the side to keep the man in sight. At last Alonso finished his drink and let out a satisfied "Ahh…that hits the spot. So you gonna tell me who put you up to this or do I have to guess?"
Taken aback Rabbit said, "We don't ask names in my business." To this Alonso nodded sagely. "Of course…of course…silly of me to ask really. Let's see if I can't figure it out then." Turning his head to the side Alonso looked Rabbit over then casually looked around the living room. "No sign of forced entry…but your no hacker. Your aura is bright and your helper…" the word practically dripped with scorn, "…beating his fists impotently against my threshold clearly marks you as a shaman." Alonso inhaled deeply through his nose, "Yes her scent is fading quickly but I would bet little Annie was the one who hired you." Sighing Alonso shook his head. "That is what I get for letting a mortal program my security. Well you live you learn eh?"
Placing the empty water bottle on the coffee table in front of him Alonso leaned forward and rest his arms on his knees. Fixing Rabbit with a steely gaze he continued. "So little Annie Cartwright wants out of our deal does she? So disappointing. She never would have made her way to the top without me, and now she sends you to try to scare me off. I really expected more from her." Alonso let out a deep sigh and shook his head again; jerking his head towards Rabbit he asked "What's she paying you anyway?" Completely taken off guard by the question Rabbit answered truthfully, "One thousand to get you to back off." Alonso practically roared with laughter, "One thousand to confront a free spirit in his home and make demands! You got played kid.
Rabbit blinked in surprise, "Wait…what…a free spirit? Hold on a second, what the frag are you talking about?" Rabbit's pulse quickened, if Alonso was really a free spirit then he was in very serious trouble. Suddenly it all made sense…the Johnson's dingy aura…the fact that trust fund baby Alonso didn't seem fazed by an armed intruder; the Johnson had made a deal with a free spirit and now she wanted out of it.
All the humor drained from Alonso's expression and his eyes hardened. "Tough luck kid, looks like you took the wrong job." Alonso raised his right hand almost casually and Rabbit felt every muscle in his body lock up. While Rabbit tried in vain to move, Alonso stood up casually and walked over to a massive bookshelf that Rabbit hadn't paid much attention to before now and carefully took down an urn. Alonso placed in urn on the coffee table in front of Rabbit and sat back down on the couch. Alonso leaned back and smiled, "Do you know what this is? No? This is vázo kardiá…a Jar of Hearts." Alonso leaned forward and took the lid off of the plain clay pot. "Now this might hurt a bit…"
Several things happened at the same time. Alonso jerked his head around to stare at the front door cursing in what Rabbit could only assume was Greek. Rabbit regained control of his body and fell backwards out of the chair, turning to look at the doorway in time to make out the vague outline of a transparent figure brandishing a sword. Alonso leapt towards the figure and Rabbit could feel the power emanated from the spirit as a bolt of blue energy shot from his hand and struck the intruder. A scream of pain sounded in Rabbit's head.
Rabbit made a break for the back of the house, pausing only to scoop up the pistol he had dropped and work the slide. As he ran the elf fired three rounds into the sliding glass door. The glass shuddered with the impact of the 9 mm slugs as cracks spread along the surface. Rabbit crossed his arms over his head and hit the door at a full run. It felt like running full force into a brick wall but the glass gave way and the dazed and bloodied shaman was free. Stumbling slightly Rabbit vaulted the small fence, shouldered his way through the gate mindless of the alarm that sounded, and hot-footed it into the night.
Three days later word reached Rabbit that Ann Cartwright had been found dead in her corporate apartment. The corporate security was ruling it a suicide but Rabbit knew better. The young elf had spent the last few days lying low and licking his wounds. The first day had been the worst, not knowing if his spirit mentor had survived the attack from Alonso. But as he sat in the waiting room of The McGinn Clinic Rabbit smiled as a familiar voice entered his head.
Had you paid more attention to your lessons you wouldn't need anyone to stitch you up.
With the news of Cartwright's death Rabbit knew he would have to skip town. Rabbit hated the idea of leaving Seattle but he hated the idea of Alonso coming after him even more. Rabbit thought he might go to Denver or maybe put some real distance between him and the spirit and head for Boston. One thing was certain though…Alonso was right. Rabbit had definitely taken the wrong job.