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Three By Shadow

Act I: The Silphid - Scene V

Back at The Silphid

Gamemaster:

The road back to the Silphid is, indeed, quiet. The trio occupy their minds with private thoughts as the van eats the miles away. Finally turning onto Locust and 177th, Ling Fei parks Boxcar in the deserted parking lot and kills the engine. They leave the courier in the crew compartment and move around the building to the right, going the way they are accustomed.

The two bouncers recognize them as they enter through the back, and open the heavy riveted doors for them. The team makes its way through the bar section and takes the left at the hallway; the clientele drinking on their stools seem not to have moved since they left.

The Johnson greets them in the usual room, having been notified of their arrival through some means or another. His cohorts stand behind him like stone columns, neither moving nor speaking.

“So,” he intones gracefully, the glint of business in his eye, “how did it go?”

Player:

Crusher stands up straight and meets the Johnson in the eye, unwilling to give ground to this pencil-pusher, no matter what sort of power he may wield from behind his lacquered desk. The rigger and shaman stand at either shoulder of the mercenary, a half-step back, their expressions somber, and disinterested, respectively.

“Well sir, we did pick up your courier, and his case. Nabbed him at the airport before lonestar caught wind.” He pauses a moment before delivering the bad news, his gaze wandering to the floor for an instant before returning to the Johnson. “But we were tailed. A black Patrol-1 tried to run us off the road—we slagged their ride, but not before a heavily-chromed man put a round in the courier’s throat. We got him patched up okay, and he’s alive and breathing, but he won’t make it another day without proper medical care.” The ork grits his mental teeth, waiting to see the Johnson’s reaction, what kind of information he can provide about the men who tailed them, and what sort of cut he’ll take out of their cred.

Gamemaster:

Mr. Johnson looks up at the ork and smiles. “Well, Mr. Crusher, you seem to have fulfilled your end of the bargain. The employers could care less about the state of his body, but his mind… I digress. My associates here will follow you out to your vehicle; there you will give them the case and the carrier.” His ‘coworkers’ step forward into the light, the one thin and slick, the other tall and heavy.

The Johnson stands up and takes a newly minted credstick out of his jacket pocket. “I will notify you in a few weeks’ time if I or my employers require your assistance further.” He slots the stick into a handheld reader and punches some buttons, then hands the silver stick to Crusher.

“There, as we agreed, your base rate plus the single bonus for the courier’s life, coming to fifteen thousand even. You will find that this certified credstick has been verified in all the major credit bureaus. It does not require a SIN, and will be good for one transfer only to the account of your choosing, after which point it will deactivate. I look forward to our future business.”

At this, he turns on his heel and walks out of the room by a concealed back entrance. The runners are left alone with his companions.

The moment your fingers touch your first credstick…

LEVEL UP! [RPG fanfare]

Okay, there are some changes to the usual system:

Karma is still earned and spent the same, but now instead of Good Karma, there is White Karma and Black Karma. This is to reflect character growth from things like punching babies or screwing grandma. This new Black Karma does not affect you, yet. All you need to do is keep track of your total karma, as that’s what you’ll be spending anyway. It’s written: Total (White/Black).

Additionally, every 20th point of team Karma earns a bonus God Karma, which can be used by the player just as a point of normal Karma for anyone he wishes, even NPCs. These will accumulate, so they don’t have to be spent when earned.

Bear in mind I have a general amount of Karma I award each character, so achievements are just a way to break it down, not a list of things I want you to do repeatedly. Only some, like Lead Role and Daddy’s Boy, can be re-earned by a character every run.

Now, your Karmic Achievements:

Crusher – 14 (10/4)

Lead Role – 3 White Karma
Awarded to the character who had the largest role in the story.

Shoot First… – 3 Black Karma
This infamous achievement is earned by threatening innocent civilians, opening machine gun fire on a crowded street, and generally having a surly disposition toward others.

Brains of the Operation – 2 White Karma
Passed the most Intelligence-based checks. Not necessarily the most intelligent.

Face Man – 2 White Karma
This character did all the talkin’ and etiquette testin’, and looked good doing it.

Tipping Isn’t A City In China – 1 Black Karma
Worried about the bills. Someone’s got to.

Daddy’s Boy – 2 White Karma
Awarded to the character the GM liked the most.

Joker – 1 White Karma
Made me laugh

Ling-Fei – 8 (8/0)

High Roller – 2 White Karma
During the run, had the highest TN on a successful check or open test (on one of her driving tests).

Waltz of the Elephants – 2 White Karma
For superior piloting skills of a gigantic armored van through downtown Chicago in heavy traffic.

Wuss – 2 White Karma
This is awarded to the first person to hit the dirt after a little gunfire.

All-Seeing Eye – 1 White Karma
Nobody ever got far without good surveillance.

Joker – 1 White Karma
rofl (specifically, name of her car)

Moonclaw – 12 (5/7)

Brain Drain – 2 Black Karma
Risked the highest-drain spell or conjuring during the run (Force 6 Spirit of Man). Using the magic in an offensive application causes this achievement to grant Black Karma.

Space Cadet – 1 White Karma
Spent a fair amount of time sleeping and/or being in astral space.

Buzz Killington – 2 Black Karma
Was kind of a jerk to teammates. Also, sucker punched a guy while wearing a shock glove.

Ether Hog – 1 White Karma
This recipient of this award loves to use magic. Like, loves to use magic. Seriously, uses magic for just about everything: killing people, looking at stuff, mailing postcards, opening jars…

Nature’s Wrath – 3 Black Karma
Used a Nature spirit with force equal to 1.5x her Charisma to do harm to humans.

Totem Pole – 3 White Karma
Never broke her totem’s domain, suffered it’s disadvantages, or made it mad.

Player – 1 God Karma

Player:

The runners proudly show the bruisers to the wheezing man, and watch happily as they muscle him back into the bar. The trio stand in the frigid night air, the silence quickly becoming awkward. Moonclaw stretches her arms wide and yawns silently. Crusher shrugs his shoulders. “Well. . . I think this deserves at least a little celebration. . . and we’re at a bar. . .” the ork motions at the Silphid with a tilt of his head. “What do you ladies say?”

Ling Fei’s face lights up, and she bounces slightly on her toes, excited at the prospect at spending some time with these relatively inveterate shadowrunners. “I’m always down for a beer.” Moonclaw looks impatient, as if she has things to do, but nods her consent. They make their way back inside the bar and take a seat at one of the empty tables in the smoky haze. Crusher and Ling Fei order beers, and both begin taking deep gulps, the small chinese elf suprisingly keeping pace with the heavy-set ork, who has removed his overcoat to reveal his arms—one deep brown, leathery and lightly wrinkled like the skin of a man twice his age, the sheets of flexible derminal plating implanted beneath his skin barely visible, the other a silvery, heavily worn alloy, the look of an incredibly used but well-maintained piece of construction equipment. He pounds another gulp back and looks down at Moonclaw’s glass.
“Are you drinking. . . milk?” the mercenary questions.
The cat shaman gives him a sour look. “Yes. I am. I will not partake in your white devil’s drink. We’ve lost enough of our people to your narcotics already.”
Ling Fei glances up at Crusher before giving Moonclaw a skeptical look. ”. . .Which one of us are you calling the white devil?”
Crusher finishes his brew and slams the empty mug onto the table, gesturing to the barkeep for another one. “Look, you can drink whatever you want. Don’t want you to lose your mojo. Anyway, what are you chummers planning on doing with your 5k?”

Ling Fei finishes her beer as welland shrugs her shoulders. “I’m gonna patch up my car, clean out the back. . .ALOT. . . invest in some trauma patches in case one of gets plugged as bad as that man did. . .” She trails off, lost in thought. “Oh, Crusher, do you think you could put me in touch with your street doc friend? I’d like to take my first-aid to the next level just in case.”

The ork considers for a moment. “Only if you show me a thing or two about gunnery. . . I could barely hit a car with that thing, and I’m usually pretty good with my Valiant.” He then turns to the shaman. “And you?”

She shrugs. “The yen we got today will barely pay my rent for a month. I’m biding my time until I can buy something of real value, something which could really do some damage.”

Crusher nods in agreement. “I feel you. I’ve been itching to get my hands on an RPG since the beginning of time. I’d rather put this cred down on my water bill and wait till this suit drops us a real mission.”

The runners exchange small talk for a few more minutes, and then say their goodbyes. Moonclaw simply walks eastwards into the darkness, which quickly envelops her. Ling Fei drops Crusher at the nearest inter-city bus stop, exchanging com numbers.

1)Crusher would like Ling Fei to teach him gunnery.
2)Ling Fei wants to get in touch with Crusher’s street doc contact, Harriet Matthews, to train her in biotech (first aid).
3)Ling Fei goes to her fixer (or the local store?) to pick up 2 trauma patches, and 2 stim patches.

Gamemaster:

On her way back from the Silphid, her vehicle autonav helping her drunk-drive home, Ling Fei dials the number for her fixer, an old dwarven fellow who owns an auto-repair shop downtown. She places her order for the stim and trauma patches, and he tells her in his gruff, bearded voice that it will be about two days before he can hook her up with the goods. She then goes home and crashes, exhausted from the day’s work.

Crusher and Ling Fei climb into Boxcar Rebellion in the early hours of morning a few days after the conclusion of their first run. The rigger jacks in and points the van South down I-57, heading towards Manteno. She drives for an hour or so, and then pulls off onto a dusty side-road. “Okay, I know a place where we can show you a thing or two,” she intones electronically over the vehicle’s intercom. Pulling off the road completely, she starts down a stretch of waste lined with dead trees and sparse shrubs, nary an animal or human in sight.

“The first thing to do is pull down your turret HUD.” Crusher reaches up and flips the handle down, and the turret controls fold down from the ceiling like a submarine periscope. The screen lights up and the various reticles and readouts flash their information out at the ork, some familiar to him, others not.

“Okay, this is Gunnery 101!” Ling Fei turns the intercom volume up, speaking with her mind over the roar of the engine, her lips not moving. “First, notice your central reticle; this is where the barrel of the gun is pointing. Obvious, right? But watch as I accelerate—” she mentally steps on the gas, and a smaller, green reticle drifts off of the central sight, sliding off to the right, trailing a dotted line back to the red central reticle. “See that little green guy? That’s your lead reticle, it takes into account the speed of the vehicle and facing of the turret up top. That’s where you should aim if we’re running and gunning!” [Crusher nods in comprehension, and his Gunnery skill increases to 3!]

Ling Fei takes a sharp U-turn, pointing the van back down the dusty straightaway, and continues, “Now for a little more advanced stuff. As we pass, try putting some rounds on that dead tree on our right.” Crusher swivels the turret clockwise, and watches the green lead reticle slowly slide left of center as the vehicle picks up speed. As it passes over the black form of the tree, he squeezes on the triggers, letting loose a five round burst. Two holes are blown through the solid wood, kicking bark shards into the branches, and the vehicle rocks side to side on its wheels. “Did you feel that? Since the turret is attached to the vehicle, Boxcar absorbs the recoil. Whenever you fire a vehicle-mounted weapon perpendicular to its axis of movement, the suspension on one side absorbs more force than the other, and it will throw off your shot.” Crusher looks towards the cab in bewilderment. Ling Fei, understanding that she may be leaving her pupil behind the learning curve, says, “Try and fire the turret only to our front and rear facing if we’re going fast, okay? If you absolutely have to shoot sideways, use short bursts, and give the suspension time to recover. This will make it easier for me to maneuver, too!”

After a few more passes, Crusher is able to accurately use the lead reticle, and learns to control the sideways motion of the van by firing slowly. As the sun rises noon-ward, the armored van leaves the dusty track, the tree now a fallen trunk next to a bullet-pocked stump. [Crusher scratches a tusk in understanding, and his Gunnery skill increases to 4!]

Ling Fei drops Crusher back at his place, and then heads back to Auburn Gresham, giving Harriet Matthews a call on her way. She pulls up to the old ork’s house and knocks on the screen door. The young assistant that greeted the team before answers the door, explaining that Harriet is busy on a particularly complicated installment, and offers to show her what she wants to know. “It will be good practice for me, too,” he remarks, making the elf feel uncomfortable. He grabs the corner of a plastic tarp draped over a table, and pulls, revealing a male cadaver which looks to be in the middle of an autopsy. “This is what we practice on,” the assistant explains. “Don’t worry, he won’t decay much more than he already has.” The young ork splashes an extra dose of formaldehyde over the body from a milk jug sitting on the windowsill. “Just in case,” he explains. Ling Fei gags.

“Okay, you remember your boy had a big hole in him right about here, right?” The boy points to the body’s neck. He bends over the corpse with a scalpel, and expertly cuts into the flesh just below the adam’s apple. He grabs a ballpoint pen from a desk behind him, and says, “Okay, if that ever happens again in the future, just remember to keep pressure on the wound and try to clean it out as best as possible.” As he talks, he disassembles the pen until he has only the hollow plastic tube in his hands. “This is how you do a field tracheotomy, so watch carefully.” Ling Fei’s stomach has gotten over her initial disgust, and she watches with fascination as the ork slides the pen down the lung-ward portion of the trachea and up towards the larynx in one smooth motion. “There, easy! The only thing is, it’s going to be a lot harder to do that if there’s a lot of bleeding or the guy isn’t out cold. I hear it’s an unpleasant feeling to go through if you’re conscious. Also, be careful with that second movement, if you go too high you could take out your patient’s vocal chords.” [Ling Fei raises an eyebrow, and her Biotech (First Aid) specialization increases to 5!]

Later the next day finds Ling Fei at the autobody shop, a low, squat building with two large garage doors which open onto the parking lot. Within them is the usual hodge-podge of mechanical repair equipment: hydraulic lifts with pits underneath them, monkey wrenches and vacuum hoses hanging on hooks on the walls, nuts and bolts scattered around the floor. Dwarves of various ages—but all with long, full beards—scurry around underneath the raised vehicles, making repairs, bickering with each other and generally being very dwarven. The chinese elf greets her dwarven fixer, a serious man named Captain Winters (when questioned, he replies that yes, his mother named him Captain, and she’s a very nice, sane lady; he then proceeds to threaten whoever asked with violence). He brushes his beard down over his belly with an oily hand, and greets Ling Fei as one greasemonkey to another. “Mornin’ Ling. Why don’t you step into my office?” He shows her to a glassed-in cubicle off the main garage, yelling and swearing at his employees along the way. Ling Fei stoops under the entrance, and closes the little door behind her.

Closing the blinds, Captain Winters addresses her, all business, “Ling, I got the stuff you need, but it wasn’t cheap. You know how it is, someone has to know someone who works in a hospital, has to follow them in and steal it, or else nab it from DocWagon when they aren’t looking. I knew the right guys, as always, but they charged me right up, and I knew you were good for the money. It’ll be ¥4200 for the bunch.” He reaches under his desk and produces a silver-wrapped package, barely larger than an envelope. “So what’s it gonna be? Cash? Cred?”

Player:

Ling Fei balks a little at the price of the medicine. “Drek me, that much? Man, that’s about all I’ve got right now period. . . Well, I guess its worth the life I might save.” She hands over her credstick and grimaces as the better half of her funds is withdrawn. Patches in hand, she thanks Winters for his help and heads home.

The shadowrunners fall into their usual biding routines, waiting for the next com-call to get them on their way again. Ling Fei spends her days tinkering with her drones, spending some time with friends, and vid-chatting with family from overseas. Crusher spends most of his time in his easy chair, watching junk ‘trid while cleaning his guns and subsiding on synthetic hamburgers and pasta. Moonclaw passes her days cavorting in the astral plane, prowling the rooftops of the physical world, and napping fastidiously.

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Crusher

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