Three By Shadow

Act I: The Silphid - Scene III

Interstate 190 & Downtown Chicago

Gamemaster:

The van pulls away from the curb into the cleared lanes of traffic around them. Vehicles warily make their way to the side of the road when they see the Roadmaster approaching; in this way, the runners make good time around the traffic circle. They are rounding the last corner onto the exit ramp towards I-190.

Boxcar Rebellion’s active sensors report that the Lonestar escort van is just now exiting the Kennedy Expressway onto the O’Hare traffic hub, the city spirit’s attempts to confuse them not having had any effect. This puts the van’s location only a kilometer behind them, but, as far as the runners know, Lonestar is totally unaware of the fate of the courier, who is now groaning on the shifting metal floor of the van, struggling to see straight but not making any hostile movements.

The spirit hums back into the astral space inside the van, acknowledging Moonclaw eagerly with a ticket-stub salute.

Player:

Crusher glances nervously into the side view mirror. “Got anything on the scope?”
“We’re clean for now sarge.”
“Alright, well let’s head for the slipit before our shits blown,” he grumbles, ducking into the rear of the vehicle to get a closer look at the hostage, digging through the bins until he produces a length of rope, which he uses to begin binding the man’s hands and feet.

Moonclaw releases her grip on the man, staring into astral space with a smile on her face. “One last thing, my friend: mask our trail from those who seek it.”

Gamemaster:

The spirit agrees to its last service to the shaman, and happily scampers off to conceal the runners’ path. Having collected its due—or whatever it is that nature spirits get out of such magical pacts—the psychic link with Moonclaw is broken, and the spirit is hers no more.

The courier, highly frazzled and at his wit’s end, allows himself to be tied up—struggling at this point would be useless. He realizes that if they were going to kill him, they wouldn’t have bothered with the shock glove. The charred nerve endings in his abdomen make him wish they had used something more lethal.

This doesn’t stop him from groaning a lot, rolling around on the floor, and making a pretty embarrassing show of soiling himself. He manages to ask, through fits of nausea and waves of pain, “Uhhghh… What do you people want with me? Where are we going?” He tries to roll around to see out the windows of the speeding Roadmaster, but the thin slits offer no real clue as to where they are headed. All he can tell is that it is still night out, and his head hurts something terrible. “Can you at least sit me up on a seat? I… I lost control down here.” He starts to cry, a little.

The roadmaster whirs along through the night, down the Kennedy Expressway and to I90/94. The active sensor package informs Ling Fei that the Lonestar Roadmaster has been stopped at O’Hare since they left, probably parked next to two confused wage-slave escorts looking for a mustached man with a silver briefcase. They leave sensor range and the runners are, to the best of their knowledge, in the clear.

Now it’s just the runners and the courier. It starts to smell in the van.

Player:

The impossibly old ork drops to one knee in front of the man, resting an open palm on his massive thigh and leaning his face in close to the courier’s. He meets the man’s gaze, and slowly cycles his cybereyes through their various functions, causing his eyes to shift through hues of amber and jade as he stares at the man. He makes no attempt to mask his emotions, and his face is that of a man who is about to perform a well practiced task which he sorely dislikes. Moonclaw turns her chin up at the building odor, wrinkling her nose and attempting to get her face as close as possible to the air coming through the slot in the door on the far side of the cabin.

Seemingly satisfied with his view of the man, the ex-mercenary brings his body upright and takes hold of the man’s collar in his left hand, hoisting him roughly onto the bench seat in the back of the van. Moonclaw emanates a petite grunt of discomfort and stands, stretching slightly before making her way to the front of the van to escape the increasingly foul smell of the man’s excrement.

Gripping the crease of his hat lightly with two fingers, Crusher slowly lifts the hat off of his head and hangs it without looking on the hook of an equipment rack behind him. He raises his left hand, palm turned towards him, and calmly forms it into a fist, his knuckles cracking loudly. Finally, he speaks. “When I was a grunt in Afghanistan, we were always pressed for time,” he begins, rolling his head to one side to pop the joints in his neck. “but sometimes, we still needed to get people to tell us things.” He kneels in front of the man again, and begins to roll up his right pant leg, very roughly, as if skinning a small animal. He continues as he finishes rolling the man’s pants up, leaving his upper thigh exposed. “But, as I said, we were usually short on time.” The ork stands again, this time bringing his right hand up, forming it slowly into a fist, the alloys of his cybernetic fingers squealing together quietly under the pressure. “As a result, I developed a special form of questioning. I call it, ‘two question interrogation.’ So, here’s the first question:”

With this, the ork brings his cybernetic fist down hard on the man’s exposed thigh, enough to smart sharply but with no intention of breaking bone or causing lasting injury. The ork straightens up again, right hand still raised in a fist. “What’s the combination, chummer?”

Gamemaster:

The man wails in pain, and blacks out for a second. The effects of his traumatic electrocution are still lingering. When he comes to, he starts to bawl, his chest heaving, trying to explain in a broken voice, “I…huhh… I have a family… aghghh… please stop… I can’t tell you.. THEY’LL KILL ME! It’s in my head.. they’ll know, they’ll know if I say it…” He starts to weep uncontrollably. The handcuff around his wrist rattles and shakes with each sob.

Player:

The ork stares down at him for a second. “Smart move, chummer. I’ll have you pop it open for me when we get to grandma’s house.” He slaps the side of the man’s had lightly with the open palm of his cybernetic limb, gives a light chuckle, and sits down diagonally from the man in the rear facing seat on the opposite side of the van, and casually lights a cigarette, his face flickering through a rainbow of colors from the loglo shining through the firing slit in front of him. His face takes on a more serious expression as he leans forwards, pointing the lit cigarette at the man with his right hand. “Besides,” he says more angrily now, a gleaming dagger flicking suddenly from a slot running down the length of the blade of his palm, “I hate asking question number two.” He brandishes the cutting edge at the man for a moment, before flipping it back into the recesses of his palm. He leans back and takes a drag on his cigarette, before ashing it upon the floor. “And we’ll be there soon enough.”

Gamemaster:

The courier looks sidelong at the snap-blade, and quiets down for a while, thinking very hard, weighing his options. He looks at Crusher forlornly, “Look, I don’t care what you guys want with me, or this case, or who you’re working for… I’m just some guy they hired off the street! I just want to get back to my wife and kids! I’m not even from the UCAS, I don’t want to die here! I’d help you in a second if you could get me away from those people, but, I can’t tell you what you want to know. I can’t even talk about why I can’t talk about it.”

He enunciates this last part very clearly, and points to his head and pantomimes an explosion with his hands. It’s not very clear what he’s trying to get across. He shuts up after saying this, resigned to his fate.

Ling Fei makes her way back towards Chicago, passing through the Northern sprawl area and moving towards downtown and the shoreline. Everything has been going smoothly, the rigger driving normally under autonav and doing a good job of not making the van more conspicuous than usual. She is sticking to I-90/94, passing Wicker Park on the right, when a night-time road crew warning pops up on her HUD. The readout says that the interstate is being serviced for the next few miles, and her nav computer automatically plots a course for her on West Washington to South Canal street, through the downtown Chicago area.

She takes the exit ramp off the freeway and turns into the labyrinthine halls of Chicago’s skyscrapers. A dim, orange glow penetrates everything here, and traffic is heavier and slower than on the interstate. There are some pedestrians out tonight; it is Friday, after all, and the early bar crowd is just getting its sea-legs.

Just then, something trips Boxcar Rebellion’s initial warning detector. Ling Fei has put a lot of custom work into her Roadmaster, and foremost amongst these is the software running the sensor suite. Advanced algorithms in the vehicle’s active sensor package continuously sweep surrounding traffic and regress the ‘white noise’ of normal traffic patterns against a statistical analysis of variance in surrounding traffic. This, in short, grants the vehicle a kind of sixth sense for detecting when something is amiss in the immediate area.

The flashing yellow light in Ling Fei’s peripheral vision indicates that the van has picked up something strange in the way that traffic is flowing around it. It could be a false positive, but no more information is available at the moment without further analysis.

Player:

“Huh” the elf murmurs, her body leaning farther forward over the steering wheel as she focuses on the strange blip.
“Is something wrong?” the cat shaman asks, glancing across the center console.
“Just picking up a spook in the traffic cogitators. . .” She sits tensely, her body alive with the data of the city flowing through her. “All the same, I don’t like it.” She turns her head to yell into the rear of the vehicle. “I got a spook on the sensors—Could be nothing but I’m going to give him a shake all the same.”

With this she turns her attention to the road, throwing on her right turn signal and decelerating steadily to take the turn onto South Canal. At the last moment, she accelerates away the from the intersection, heading straight and ducking between two cars, gunning it across the West Washington street bridge before leaning heavily on the wheel, the van rocking wildly on its suspension as it turns right down North Wacker drive. She sneaks another look on the data analysis to see if the anomaly has responded.

Gamemaster:

The data being culled from traffic takes some time to register a possible hit, but, for now at least, all seems clear. Ling Fei continues driving South on North Wacker. The only interruptions to this busy street are the intersections, only mildly crowded with cars and people. The tall buildings on either side of the street completely block line of sight to the Chicago river.

Ling Fei’s awareness of her surroundings has been heightened due to the initial warning from Boxcar Rebellion. When the emergency proximity warning goes off, she is ready for it. Gunning the motor, she shoots the van forward and narrowly avoids a black Chrysler Nissan Patrol-1 which careens off the West Monroe bridge in a high speed ramming attempt.

It overshoots the runners’ Roadmaster, and skids into a sharp turn, following them closely. The drivers of the black van are hidden behind dark tinted glass. Ling Fei’s adrenaline starts pumping, and she gets ready for close quarters vehicular combat.

Player:

Ling Fei grips the wheel, her heart racing. “Drek, we’re in it now!” With a mental twitch, she toggles the vehicles autonav off and switches to full manual control. In the next moment, she pops the clutch and drops a gear, her legs screaming with pain as the engine revs heavily to match the gears, throwing the occupants back into their seats as the vehicle powers forwards down South Wacker [complex: acceleration test].

Crusher stands uneasily in the rear compartment, reaching up to flip down a pair of pistol grips attached to a scope mechanism which swivels on the ceiling of the van. The screen whirs to life and flickers with a cross-hair and a video feed of the city night rushing past. He takes several shuffling steps to spin the entire setup 180 degrees, stooping to get a clear view through the goggles as the hissing and clanking of pneumatics and plating above his head herald the Ingram Valiant’s deployment [complex: ready pop-up turret].

Back in the front seat, Moonclaw rummages hurriedly into a pouch on her waist, drawing out a fist of powered cement which she pours in a circle on the dashboard. In her other hand she holds several shards of steel rebar down in a criss crossing pattern within the circle, and focuses all of her energies into the sigil, beads of sweat running down her forehead as she attempts to open a gate into the other realm larger than the one she formed earlier that night [complex: conjuring test, force 6 urban spirit, 6 conjuring dice and 1 spell pool die to conjure, 4 charisma, 2 totem, and 5 spell pool die to resist drain].

Gamemaster:

The van jumps roughly, the heavy, steel-belted radials biting the pavement. Traffic is dense and restricting, but Ling Fei manages to edge out some of the surrounding cars and get some room to accelerate. The van’s powerful engine revs and powers forward, but the sheer weight and bulkiness of the Roadmaster makes it hard to get going quickly.

Moonclaw concentrates hard, steadying herself in the passenger’s seat with her hands on the dash, focusing on the metaphysical plane. This invocation is at the upper limit of her safety threshold for such an act; any greater a call, and the backlash from the mental strain could very well kill her.

She can feel something in her mind starting to tear away: like a tired muscle being stretched too far, her mental fiber starts to strain and unravel. The steel rebar in her hand starts to burn red-hot, and she can smell her flesh cooking underneath it. Grimacing, she holds on and continues to concentrate. A sickening nausea starts to eat at the pit of her stomach, and quickly grows worse, becoming an entire body-ache which chews her bones down to the marrow. Just when she thinks she can take no more, when the world starts to twist and moire in front of her eyes and her teeth rattle in her skull, reality snaps back into place with a jolting suddenness. Her head reels from the sharp change; the pain in her hand disappears completely, but the conjuring leaves her with a light headache.

She casts around with her magical senses; all is quiet, and she fears that she has failed the summoning, and that no spirit answers her call. Then, in that familiar pit of her mind, she hears a deep, gray, rolling sound, like metal girders twisting in slow motion. Looking forward through the smudged glass of the windshield, she can make out a translucent shape appearing before her, floating in midair above the street, keeping pace with the lurching van. It is large, as large as a troll, its body a humanoid twisting of metal struts, with steel reinforcing bars bunched at the arms and legs to form striated muscles. A mixture of concrete, garbage, broken bricks and glass flows smoothly beneath this exoskeleton. The head is a broken, faceless chunk of black pavement which peers down at Moonclaw from a neck made of braided lampposts. It nods to her and swears fealty, agreeing to perform two services for the shaman.

Crusher looks through the target screen and sees the street flying backwards; his target’s windshield is dead in his sights. He is putting pressure on the triggers, but the system lock is up, preventing the gun from firing until it has fully deployed. He can see through the viewfinder that the car looks like it has been modified with extra armor; he wouldn’t be surprised if the glass was reinforced, too. The Patrol-1 otherwise looks just like others of its type: a long, sloping windshield washes back in a tinted black wave like a pair of expensive sunglasses. The rear of the car houses the sturdy electric engine which draws its power from the Grid; the rear wheels and carriage assembly are larger than the front, giving the car an aerodynamic, arrowhead look. The doors are long and thin, with tall windows and pintle mounts for personal firearms. The hood is wide and glossy black; the reflected city lights run up it like beads of water. Air intake lines leading away from the radiator grill, which has the stylized, encircled pentagram logo of Chrysler Nissan displayed front and center.

The van is jolting around in traffic; it is hard for Crusher to keep a steady bead on the black car. The Roadmaster passes through a four-way intersection and hits a pothole. The suspension kicks back, lifting everything inside an inch off the ground before slamming them back down. Crusher stumbles and recovers, but his eyes left the target screen for a second, and now the enemy car is nowhere to be seen. He swings the turret around, searching; there’s nothing to either side of the van, and the car definitely did not have the time or speed to overtake them.

The runners are driving on the right side of the two lane road, moving with traffic. To their left is a 5 foot high cement barrier separating opposing lanes of traffic. The Patrol-1 could have disappeared down an intersection, or it could be on the other side of this barrier; at any rate, the enemy has managed to hide from view for the time being. The ork stays alert.

Player:

Ling Fei glances down at the speedometer, anxious to time her approach onto the bridge. The kettle whistle alarm of the patrol-1 running so close behind her has suddenly faded from her senses. She pauses for a moment, receiving the mounds of data from her sensors hammering away at the vehicle’s surroundings, and then darts into the left lane, tensed for another surprise attack. [complex: relocating test(using active sensors)]

Crusher pans the turret around jumpily, trying to cover all their angles. He sweeps over the surrounding rush of traffic behind and to the sides of the roadmaster, searching for the missing vehicle.

Moonclaw takes a moment to collect herself before sending her essence leaping into the astral plane, rocketing above the lifeless traffic, face to face with the hulking spirit.

Gamemaster:

For a second, all activity in the van is focused on reacquiring the lost target. Crusher sweeps the nose of the turret around, the electronic sensor package on the turret sweeping surrounding traffic. Ling Fei runs a scan for the black Patrol-1’s signature, but surrounding traffic is too thick, the noise of the city impedes her electronic ears and eyes, and the actions of the enemy driver have made a target lock difficult. Her efforts are frustrated, but she is confident that the impressive active sensors in the van will be able to find the van, given time.

Player:

Ling Fei grips the wheel uncomfortably, the fear that she may be jockeying with a real street pro eroding away at her focus. She reaches out again with her sensors, sweeping her surroundings for the missing vehicle.

Moonclaw projects her essence higher above the freeway, jetting along twenty feet above the road, searching for the missing vehicle.

Gamemaster:

Moonclaw spots the pursuers by their black-red, murderous auras, first. This sticks out to her like a sore thumb, but then she takes stock of their situation: the driver of the vehicle has switched lanes, driving on the other side of the concrete barrier, against the flow of traffic. He’s either a crazy good driver, or just crazy, but the smaller car has actually started to outstrip the Roadmaster, overtaking them slowly but surely. They are about 40 meters ahead of the Roadmaster; an intersection is coming up in 300 meters, which would give them a chance to cut in ahead of the runners.

Player:

Moonclaw gestures down at the speeding patrol one, highlighting it with her hostile intentions as she calls out to the nearby spirit: “Don’t let them get any farther!” [simple: command spirit – accident]

Inside the Roadmaster, Ling Fei is getting nervous. She tilts her head to yell into the back compartment, “Any sign of them?” Giving up on her sensors, she activates the vehicle’s ECM and shifts into the right lane, keeping herself tensed for another strike [simple: activate ECM (level 2)].

Crusher gives the turret another sweep of the road, searching for their assiliant. He grumbles out loud, “Not a drekin’ thing.”

Gamemaster:

Moonclaw gives the command, and the creature of the city nods in compliance. It directs its attention to the surrounding area and reaches out to the flow of traffic, grasping it by the reigns as one would a wild pack of animals. The shaman can feel its influence throughout the domain, feel the raw power it commands over the essence of the city, and watches in amazement as the future seems to be shaped before her.

The black Patrol-1 screams forward against the flow of traffic in the leftmost lanes, dodging oncoming cars by just inches, advancing its position every more steadily, using the pockets and gaps in the lanes and sidewalks to greatest advantage.

The pursuers reach the last intersection on S. Wacker street before the runners. The lights in the intersection are green, and the east-west lanes running from either side are clear. The enemy rigger steps on the gas, intent on positioning his deadly payload in front of the team’s armored van.

The moment his vehicle crosses the threshold into the intersection, a civilian car comes rocketing out of the eastern street, running the red light and slamming into the left side of the black Patrol-1. The chassis screams as the metal armor buckles, forcefully jolting the body of the car into the empty intersection and sending twisted pieces of metal flying into the crowded sidewalks.

Ling Fei sees the accident happen, the thermographics display suddenly flaring with energy and released heat from the cracked engine blocks. The intersection is the last one on South Wacker before the highway, and it is about only about 250 meters ahead of her, now the scene of a pretty grisly car accident.

Player:

Ling Fei’s body siezes up as she mentally applies the brakes as hard as possible, her brain stretching as she wills the vehicle to halt [complex: braking test, car 5 and 2 control pool die]. “Bogey’s on our twelve! spray ‘em!”

Crusher twists his body suddenly, panning the cannon across the front arc of the vehicle, hoping to catch a glimpse of the enemy cruiser [free: observe].

Gamemaster:

The van’s fat carbon-alloy brakes clamp down hard on the brake discs, and the tires screech to a halt; inertial energy builds up and carries the passengers forward. The rear suspension loses pressure and the back tires almost come off the ground, but the van comes to a complete stop 120 meters from the intersection.

Crusher looks through the turret’s target scope at the scene of the accident. Hot shreds of metal, ball bearings, nuts and bolts litter the street. The civilian car, a black Mitsuhama Jouster, lies where it hit the Patrol-1, smoke pouring out from under the crumpled hood, the horn blaring with the driver slumped across the wheel. The Patrol-1, amazingly, still looks capable of movement, although the large dent in the driver’s side door may have deprived it of a pilot. The force of the impact propelled the vehicle into the middle of the runner’s side of the intersection and skewed it partially to the left, obscuring the right side of the car from view. Although the reinforced glass is cracking from the buckling of the window braces, the ork still cannot see through it or discern the number of passengers.

Onlookers have become wary, fearing an explosion, but that hasn’t stopped many from rubbernecking, and a few adventurous ones have made their way into the street, approaching the car to either help out, loot the scene, or take pictures. The mercenary estimates there are about 50 civilians in or near the intersection in front of them.

Player:

Crusher steadies the reticle over the left side of the windshield and squeezes the triggers, raking the glass with a volley of rounds [free: call shot-windshield, complex: manual gunnery, 2 skill dice, 2 combat pool dice to hit. 6 rounds fired, 3 at the passenger then 3 at the driver. Vehicular mounts reduce recoil by half before applying other recoil reduction, ingram valiant has gas vent 2.]

Gamemaster:

Crusher hovers the targeting reticule over the exposed, damaged driver’s side of the car. He waits for the motion of the vehicle to stop, and then squeezes down on the turret trigger. The gunsights hop up and down in his field of view, and the staccato rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat of the light machine gun shakes the van slightly. The sound is muffled by the thick armor walls, but outside, the noise shakes and reverberates off the buildings and cars, and sends the pedestrians in the area scattering.

Crusher sees his shots kick sparks off of the bent driver door, punching one or two silver-ringed holes in the metal, and sees the reinforced glass shudder and crack. The glass on the driver’s door has a few holes in it now, but the pane stays in place. He cannot see whether he hit anything or anyone, although the fleeing civilians all seem okay.

For a second after the machinegun’s loud bark fades into the distance, all is chaos. People run, screaming, from the scene; their shouts and cries bleed into a background white noise. For a split second the runners retreat from everything and hear silence, so intently are they focused on the steaming wreck of the car.

The enemy’s actions are quick, coordinated, their intent focused and cold; they operate like an experienced team ought.

Two lightly armored men dart out left and right, running a few steps from the car and rolling, the right-most taking cover behind a parked car, the left behind the end of the concrete barrier separating traffic lanes. They lean out of cover and fire pistol-gripped submachine guns at the van, but their aim is haphazard, and they slouch against their cover, shaken from the accident.

The bullets ring around the front of the car, making a noise like gravel raining on a tin roof; they caromb off the heavy hood, and make small, white craters in the reinforced windshield. The weapons cause only a clamor, and nothing more; Ling Fei is confident that the vehicle’s heavy armor will defend them.

These new threats take the runners’ full attention, and they miss a third movement in the bowels of the smoking Patrol-1. A heavy-set figure raises partially into view, bracing itself on the crumpled roof of the car, and is still.

Suddenly, a bright white muzzle flash rockets off of the top of the car, obscuring the third shooter. It is accompanied by a deep boom, the kind of rifle report felt by the body more than heard by the ears.

The round flies, spiraling, straight and true, right towards the reinforced glass on the front of the armored van. It easily blows a fist-sized hole right through the center of the windshield and continues into the crew compartment. It finds its mark.

Crusher is standing upright, facing the intersection, when he hears the crack and distinctive swish of a supersonic near-miss. He jolts involuntarily, and turns around to see the courier, hands and legs still bound, sitting on the bench seat facing forward, and looking at him with shock in his eyes. He opens his mouth to speak, but only a gurgle emerges—he collapses to the floor, a circular bullet hole perforating his throat. Crusher sees that the exit wound is clean and small; he recognizes it as the kind of mark left by a high-velocity, sub-caliber APDS round. He estimates that, if untreated, the man only has a few minutes left to live.

Player:

Moonclaw’s astral form sweeps low between the two vehicles now exchanging fire, her features taking on a feline visage as her composure gives way to violent emotions. She calls again to the spirit, her astral projection trembling with rage: “KILL THESE MORTALS—STARTING WITH THE ONE IN THE CAR.” [simple: command spirit – materialize and attack]

Gamemaster:

The spirit nods in agreement, and Moonclaw feels its psychic tie to her vanish. It’s astral form drifts down to the ground and starts to gather the physical components necessary to materialize. Pieces of rebar tear themselves loose from the street, forming a humanoid structure which raises itself and shakily stands on asphalt feet. Broken glass and metal shards from the accident swirl around, adhering to the skeleton, lending their mass and weight. The paved head is raised onto steel shoulders. Finally, the city spirit hunkers down, entombing its astral essence in the vessel, and the still form of the golem begins to move with grim purpose.

Player:

Ling Fei is shaken, a pinprick on her forehead burning in agony as her simsense represents the bullethole in the cracked windshield. She throws herself to the floor of the van, rattled by her first experience of being shot at. As she hits the flooring she throws the van into first gear, the engine roaring as she guns it towards the on ramp leading to I-290 [complex: acceleration test, driving 5 and 5 control pool dice.]

Crusher struggles to center the figure of the sniper hidden within the bowels of the wreck in his sights, his tongue protruding between his pursed lips with concentration _ his shot prepared, he squeezes off another burst, hoping to at least keep the opposing gunner’s head down _[simple: fire burst, gunnery 2 and 2 combat pool dice].

Gamemaster:

The tires on the heavy van screech against the pavement, and the smell of burning rubber fills the riggers’ nostrils. She wills the car forward, and the armored vehicle starts off down the road. Crusher fires a few suppressive rounds at the car as they start their approach, and then they are accelerating hard, speeding towards the empty lanes leading towards the highway on-ramp, visible just 300 meters down the road.

The two armored men continue to pepper the outside of the van, but the soft-cored 9mm rounds can’t penetrate the car’s armored sides. They continue firing on it in short bursts, then concentrate their efforts on the coalescing spirit, trying in vain to prevent the sentient pavement from taking root.

The shooter in the wreck keeps his head down for the duration of the light machinegun burst, but then stands to his full height on the bent hood of the car. The runners get a glimpse of the man as he rises; a squat, battle-scarred human street samurai moves from a prone position to standing in the quick, mathematical motions inherent to machines, and cybereyes the color of granite stare lifelessly out, seeking them over the chromed end of a rebreather. They car’s damaged suspension groans under his weight, and his two gleaming cyberarms move, piston-like, to shoulder a long, snub-nosed rifle. For an instant, the light glints off of the sensor package at the end of the slide-rail; then the entire figure, weapon and all, is obscured by a bright flash which burns out in the visible and infrared spectra.

The pair of bullets is closely grouped, one leaving the barrel a split second after the other, before the weapon has even had a chance to recoil. Splintering open in mid-flight, the APDS cores shed their sabots and continue on, spiralling madly out and into the armored van, puncturing the left-hand windshield. Their initial contact with the glass slows their path only so much; their solid carbon cores punch through the hardened substance, and they continue on into the interior. Sparks fly as one round craters itself against the armaplast behind the driver’s seat; the other passes through the opening into crew compartment and ricochets around the armored walls of the Roadmaster. Crusher flinches and the courier screams, but neither is struck.

The van roars on into the traffic, taking the onramp at almost 50 miles per hour. The suspension creaks and groans, but the van holds firm and upright. Ling-Fei’s rapid heartrate subsides; her adrenaline jacked to hell because of the ASIST overloads in her VCR, and she only now gains true consciousness of her ‘meat’. They roar on into the relative safety of the open freeway, and the man in the back continues to bleed and moan.

Player:

Ling Fei is trembling slightly at the feet of the driver’s seat, groaning as two new pinpricks of simulated pain burn into her forehead. She pants, struggling to control her breath and heart rate. “Fuck… We’re fucked…”

His oversized frame still hunched beneath the turret array, Crusher coolly observes the scene turning away behind them as they take the on-ramp. “Calm down sister, I think we made it… It looks like the street is turning into some sort of cement guy… and attacking them…”

The shaman’s body stirs, her head turning from side to side as if waking suddenly from a bad dream before her eyes open onto the physical plane once more. “It’s not the road, it’s a highway spirit using it’s elemental materials to inhabit this realm.” She twists in her seat to survey the inside of the vehicle and spots the courier. “God damnit ork, did you shoot him?!”

The mercenary looks down at the man laying in a pool of his own blood, which is beginning to collect around his boots. “Wasn’t me. Drekkin’ street sam popped him,” he says, kneeling to inspect the entry wound on the man’s neck. “Drekkin’ good shot too. This is a high-velocity round, right in the air tube.” He looks up at the two women in the front of the van. “I’d give him minutes at best. Ling Fei, don’t you have some medical background?”

The elf drags herself shakily into a seated position in the driver’s chair. “Well yeah, if he’s got a slotting sprained ankle. I wouldn’t know where to begin patching up something like this.”
The ork turns shifts his gaze to the shaman on his right. “You got any voodoo whiz shit you could do to this guy?”
The cat shaman seems extremely upset by the small lake of the man’s feces, urine and blood forming in the rear of the vehicle. “My training in the healing arts isn’t nearly advanced enough… We’ll need a professional if we’re going to collect on this bonus package.”
The ork scowls, his brow furrowed in thought. “Well, anyone know where we can get help?” [All party members make knowledge tests for local street doctors. Perhaps Crusher’s cyberware surgeon contact is nearby?]

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Crusher

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