July 24, 2018 at 12:24 pm #9438
Al wove the truck through expertly through the maze of sinkholes and geysers, abrupt canyons of pumice and ridges formed by decades-old mudslides, outcroppings of apartment blocks up to their waists compacted ashfall.
This part of the Puyallup Barrens – Hell’s Kitchen – was truly a wasteland in every sense of the word. Normally accesses only by chopper, the isolation was what had attracted the beleaguered Mechanicals. And him. He’d scouted these routes the year earlier, before hightailing it to London. First with his Growler. Then, tentatively, with the Gaz. He kept one eye on the route ahead and one on the sky. If the psychos after them hit them here it would be from the sky – the paths Al now drove were on no map, knowledge inaccessible to newcomers.
“It ain’t Hawaii. An’ it ain’t the moors. But there’s a diff’rent sorta beauty here. Call ‘er wabi or sabi – hell, never could tell them two apart – but call it what ya will – hell, Desolation o’ Mordor if’n ya want, wouldn’t be that far off – call ‘er what ya want, they’s beauty ta loss.”July 24, 2018 at 2:20 pm #9441
Thursday November 5th, 2076; VR, Seattle Grid
Alyce’s sensors are picking up the sharper aspects of the terrain that Al is carefully driving through. She can tell that a good part of his attention is skyward and she directs two of her drones to fly well above the truck, alert to what is going on in the air above them. ”Thank you for phrasing it like that. I agree; there is beauty is almost anything, and being desolate does not mean it is ugly. It is all a matter of perspective, I guess, since there are lots of people that could not see that here. I appreciate that you are showing me this.”
72July 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm #9444
Two hours and thirty-seven minutes later, they were back at the boathouse. It was good and evening by then, and Al was thinking about food. Not to mention a drink. The latter he took care of from the mini-fridge. And since they were onstensibly lying low, he figured Alyce would cook. Nothing left to do but woman’s work, he kicked back on a cot with his beer and waited for Isaint to tell them what to do next.
He silently congratulated himself on his remarkable powers of delegation.July 24, 2018 at 7:01 pm #9447
Thursday November 5th, 2076; VR, Al’s Boathouse
Alyce had sat silently as Al drove, her attention divided between the man next to her and the drones flying above and about them. Once back at the boathouse, she climbs out of the truck and goes to set up her small cook stove before getting some food out of the back of the truck. Soon, the smell of food cooking fills the air. Alyce needs to keep her men fueled up and ready to go.
73August 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm #9485
Gut swollen with Alyce’s near-gourmet hotplate-in-a-dilapidated boathouse cuisine, Al was idly tossing his obscenely expensive Fairlight Caliban up toward the rafters and catching it with his eyes closed.
A thought had struck him. “Say y’all – this here Reapin’ outfit’s s’posed ta have a decker, right? Now this here ‘link I’m routin’ my comms through, she’s got the best firewall money can buy. But corp servers, they’s a lot tougher ta crack than that, an’ deckers still do it. You use some sorta agent or suchlike ta patrol yer link or somethin’, ain’t that right boss-ork?”August 6, 2018 at 5:50 pm #9486
Isaint had been silent during the meal and quite obviously distracted:
“Sorry, I was miles away just now.
Right, my setup.
I’ve build mine upon three defensive principles:
Obscurity, Vigilance and Block.
My base is a Fairlight just like yours. Great firewall for your basic blocking ability. I’ve jury rigged a module with a virtual machine on to it. Makes it a bit unstable at times, but it allows me to run cyberprograms. One of those is my Agent. I call her Susi. Her default job is to look out for unwanted MARKs and keep the defenses at maximum. If she spots a MARK she can reboot the link. Those are the first two layers.
Now, I added a so called Sleaze Dongle – enabling my Agent to actually hack stuff but also making it harder to detect the link running silent – as well as all my slaved gear. To improve that stealth, I’m also running a special cyber program that increases the effect of the dongle . This adds quite a lot of noise to my rig, but nothing the link can’t handle.
That’s the obscurity part. To add to that I have also my Area Jammer slaved to my link. Thanks to synchronized frequencies I can exempt my gear and that of our team from the effect, making it just that much harder for a decker to find, mark and hack my link – all while my Agent actively defends and watches out for attackers.
It’s not completely foolproof: A really good decker with lots of noise compensation could find my rig, knock out my Agent in one strike – and through that brick my link. But it certainly won’t allow someone else to trace me or my stuff.
Don’t look like that – I actually studied computer science for a while during my advanced training courses with the KSK and later during my time as a private detective/runner. I didn’t invent any of that stuff, I just put it all together. And let me tell you: Susi alone set me back double what the modded Fairlight is worth. But it’s a small price to pay for a moderate amount of security.”August 7, 2018 at 8:11 am #9489
Al was, as usual, impressed with Isaint’s ingenuity. Taken in its parts, Al understood all the elements of the ork’s set-up. But since until very recently he’d never really accepted that he was in this life, this profession now, since he’d heretofore been living under the premise that each of these crazy misadventures was to be the last in an unfortunate string of wrong-place-wrong-time one-offs, since he’d assumed he’d soon be back to his pedestrian, workaday existence on a Saharan caravan route or in the gator-pit or under an Arkoblock, he’d never really given more thought to matrix security than to invest in the Fairlight.
Now, however, with a grudging acceptance that this world of shadowrunners was not only real but that, at least until he got to Hollywood, he was one, and with the knowledge that some sort of world-class hacker was among the team of globe-trotting murderers out to get them, getting himself tricked out along the lines of Isaint’s configuration made a lot of sense.
The jamming wasn’t really his style, though. Seemed like a lot of hassle, something that would attract more attention than it saved. Not to mention having to be wireless, which as a general rule he avoided completely (the BEST matrix defense).
But the rest sounded good. The ork had apparently gone budget on his dongle, but since Al had been treating cred like water for some time now, he figured he’d go whole hog. He knew a guy with the Mechanicals that could set him up. Hardwiring the program carrier and then the virtual machine were things he could do himself, and never raise an eyebrow picking up the components from the Kong-Wal-Mart. He asked Alyce to recommend one of the smoke-and-mirrors programs, and once he’d made his choice he ordered it online. Not caring about noise or whatever on his ‘link, which he only used for relatively basic functions well below its capacity, he’d be dialing that program up to eleven.
So a trip to the store, a few extra cred to have his contact in the Mechanicals get the dongle sent up his way on the next Petrowski run, and a night with the soldering iron, and by the next morning he’d figured he’d be pretty well tricked out.
Provided no one tried to kill them before then, and Isaint didn’t have them out finding Silky’s fake mama. But if so, another day. No big thing.August 8, 2018 at 2:49 am #9550
“Right then.” Isaint seemed to have come to a conclusion.
“I’ve been pouring over the plans and the records. Pepper’s team did almost everything right. They got into the research labs and were halfway out again when their decker was spotted. Problem is, we can’t replicate their way in.
They disguised as workers of an on campus building site and entered through the open cellars. That avenue is now likely closed as an entrance.
Although it’s still viable as an exit.
Right now I’d say, the only viable avenue is over the roof and down the central elevator shaft. Fotos show that the roof has a pidgeon problem thanks to the oversized roof garden.
Al, take a look at the plans for the sensor housing too – I think there is a quite significant unprotected sector due to that koi pond.
From there we can make our way to the back side of the central elevator shaft and cut through the maintenance panel here – provided we short circuit the anti-tamper clamps here and here. Once inside, we’ll be able to fly down with Rick. Since we have to go in at night we probably won’t have to contend with a lot of elevator traffic. A good invisibility spell should keep us hidden from the thermal sensors inside. Just in case they upgraded those, I have ultrasound jammer as well. Once we are down at the sublevel, Robyn can direct connect to the security system of the level from inside the shaft to open doors and take care of cameras.
For the exit we can either retrace our steps, or cut here through this thin wall to get into the storage center of the other building. From there it’s only a level up to the building site. There are a lot of drone workers about, but as long as we keep to the shadows and have Robyn distract them, we should be able to get into the open here. From there we can make it to the crane to get out of the campus again.
Truth be told, I would like to have a few more months to plan this, but on short notice it’s the best I can think off.”August 8, 2018 at 5:55 pm #9551
Al leaned back from the hands-free magnifier that stood on its adjustable arm between his face and the guts of his commlink. He’d moved the plans they’d acquired onto one of his burners in case he needed them while modding the Fairlight. He took it and went to sit in the cab of his truck, where he tied the burner into the HUD for a much, much bigger view of the schematics. Twenty minutes later he came out of the cab, having reversed the polarity on the windshield so that it would act as a display for his teammates seated around the boathouse.
“Well, boss ork, looks like she’ll work, leastways as far as these here plans go. Surprise surprise, though, could be our dear friends at Evo ain’t really showed they knickers ta the Metroplex bureaucrats the way a good girl should. No doubt that big-ass goldfish pond could be a good blind spot, we come straight down on her. Flyin’ rats make usin’ passive sensors a real bitch, like ya done said. An’ the plans don’t show nothin’ coverin’ the pond. Pretty temptin’, but it’s a trap….they think. Folk won’t think it’s too good ta be true, cuz sure, water features are a pain to install upward-looking sensor arrays in. But while the plans from the city office don’t show no sensors inna housing tasked ta the pond, they do show this….”
Thumbing his ‘link, Al used the cursor to draw a line on the display. “Now that there looks like it’s the power fer the sensor housin’, but those particular sensor models is on batteries, prevent ’em losin’ juice if the power’s cut. Nah, this baby’s fer somethin’ else, somethin’ not onna plans. An’ judgin’ by how big it is, I’m thinkin’ maritime ultrasound. Ain’t onna market yet, but Proteus developed it fer access denial on external hatches, an’ from what I hear, they fine-tuned it so it can originate sub-surface an’ then look extra-surface. So what ya got is a dummy blind spot with a well-hidden sensor array that’ll pick up any intruders, an’ with more’n enough definition ta screen out the pigeons an’ goldfish. Basically a shadowrunner trap.”
Al paused to belch, then sat back down at his makeshift worktable, shutting the display off. Picking up his soldering iron, he said, “But it ain’t no thing, cuz we field-tested the prototype on the Skagerrak Blok back in ’57, maybe ’58. Can’t be expected ta remember the dates, but I sure as hell remember the tiny wavelength spectrum the things is limited to. Reckon I can recalibrate yer ultrasound jammer ta neutralize the thing, null sheen. ….So long an’ the short of it is – the plan’s still good…….Assumin’, that is, that ol’ Al’s guessin’ right about that extra power source. An’ assumin’ they ain’t got no other surprises they neglected ta tell the city fathers about….”August 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm #9552
“That… sounds about right. Damn. Good thinking Al.
Right. So I’m counting on Rick to put up a bitching strong Invisibility spell as well as a Levitation spell. But just in case we have to content with barriers and watchers, I’ll organize rappelling gear as well.”
Isaint replied.August 10, 2018 at 12:39 am #9553
Deckard was trying to pay attention to Al’s explanation, working hard to decipher his thick accent while at the same time working on the newly acquired Body Armor that ISaint got in a record time. He was trying to fit in the helmet his trodes so that he’ll have an easier time staying connected with the team.
The plan was as good as any, and he was glad Al had the technical knowledge to not only detect the possible trap but also find a way to disable it. Yet Deckard chuckled a bit when he realized the plan required him to cast Invisibility and Levitation on everyone.
Whao, whao, whao. You want me to make each on of us invisible AND levitate us at the same time? You know that’s like 8 spells I’d have to sustain, right? I’m good but that’s pushing the limit!
He pondered for a brief second. Magic was instinctive to him, and as such his power had no limit really… or so was what Chaos Mage liked to think. The thing was: there’s raw power, and there’s ingenuity.
Fine, fine. I think I can manage. Give me about 8h to get ready. I’ll go to my shack and try to bind a Spirit that will be able to assist me with these spells.
With his help and a dose of Psyche I should be able to handle all of you without going brain numb.
Meanwhile if one of you would be so kind so finish modifying the armor that’d be great. They came pretty standard it seems.August 10, 2018 at 1:17 am #9557
Isaint nodded: “I see how that could be a bit of a challenge. Tell me if there is anything else I can get you.”August 10, 2018 at 1:38 am #9558
Hey, where’s the fun if there’s no challenge? If I manage to bind a Spirit to have him cast a couple of the spells, and I can recuperate from it in time, then a dose of Psyche will clear my mind long enough for us to get in and out. It won’t take me long to find a seller on my way to my place. Yeah’ I’ll need my Lodge for that. Sorry I got to leave the rest of the planning on you.
Deckard got up, sipped the remaining of his coffee and put on his jacket. All your ‘link talk sounded like gibberish to me. Virtual shit, dongles, programs… that’s just confusing. I’ll be relying on Robyn for extra protection, but if you think I need anything to not jeopardize our runs, then be my guest. My agent is really just an overpriced personal assistant for ‘Trix search at this time.August 10, 2018 at 7:13 am #9559
“Well, kemo sabe, reckon if’n ya already got an agent, jist havin’ Alyce here program ‘er ta look fer marks an’ reboot if’n she finds any, that’ll git ya halfway there on its own without messin’ with the other bells an’ whistles. Anyhoo, jist leave yer headgear there, ol’ Al’ll take care of ‘er. Fer trodes inna helmet liner, that ain’t no thing.”August 11, 2018 at 5:56 am #9562
“Alright. That should work. I’m setting the timeline to midnight tomorrow. That should give you time to sleep off any drain you incure and a bit extra for a second try if necessary. l expect a heavy mana barrier surrounding our target, so be prepared that we might have to power through that as well.
Al, you should also prepare some more cutting charges. Few things are as useful as being able to walk through walls.
Robyn, you can use your contacts soon: We need a distraction that will lure as many guards away from the campus as possible – as well as that psycho runner team. Plant the info, that Pepper’s data will be sold somewhere in the Barrens around the time we make our break. Hopefully that will spare us an encounter with them while we are in there. Incidentally, we could leave a little surprise for them at an out of the way place.”
Isaint replied.August 13, 2018 at 6:32 pm #9564
Al didn’t look up but acknowledged Isaint’s directive with an absent nod. His commlink mods and Rick’s helmet would take him until dawn. But that wasn’t really relevant, since putting together additional cutting charges was more about supply than preparation. So he texted both Silky and Bit immediately to see if either could help him out. If they could, they might need some time, and he’d need to take delivery in twenty hours or so.
After his trip today down to Orting, Al’s boom-bag was already filled to the brim with a wide variety of ways to take down pretty much any barrier human engineering could contrive. Well, at least any barrier contrived for practical use. And maybe some that weren’t. But if the boss-ork wanted more, well, that was cool. Hell, it was a fact that Al came home from some of these jobs with his little bag of fireworks severely depleted. And refilling it was hardly something you could do down at the Kong-WalMart.
Trick was, he couldn’t prep charges without…well…charges to prep Yeah, he could take some of the smaller bits and bobs of plastique he had and combine them into one more cutting charge, but considering how many wall-busters he already had, he didn’t want to give up the versatility the smaller packages offered.
So he needed more explosive, and while he had what he needed to turn such into breachers, he didn’t have what he needed to cook up the basic boom here in the boathouse.
So he texted Silky and Bit to see what they could do for him in terms of plastique – mid-grade stuff at least, anything less wasn’t worth the carry. If they came through, he’d do the rest the evening of.August 14, 2018 at 12:13 pm #9573
[Thursday November 5th, 2076; Al’s Boathouse, Seattle Docks]
>Al, I deal in information not things that go bang… that said I can provide you with a reference to an arms dealer who should be able to source what you need, I’ll even waive my commission as you’re helping me out. Cannon isn’t the cheapest in the ‘plex but he has an extensive web of his own connections and will be able to get you the good stuff. I’ll ping you his ‘link details and let you arrange a meet. He operates out of the back of a mobile rig so depending where he is at the moment you can hook up with him fairly quickly.
#25August 14, 2018 at 12:46 pm #9574
Al thanked Silky and then voice-texted the obviously-named arms dealer Cannon. <<Guess yer expectin’ my ping, an’ maybe the what-for. Havin’ a picnic. Real upscale event. Lookin’ fer the best-quality plastic cutlery y’all can lay hand to inna next twelve hours or so. Or the makin’s thereof. Ya got my number.>>August 15, 2018 at 5:19 am #9582
Isaint kept fiddling with the plans, trying to infer where other problems would be most likely and how to take care of them. Once again he missed his regular gear, but then, that was kind of the point of this rush job: Make do with what you could get at short notice. Time to put some faith in his patron and the almighty…August 22, 2018 at 7:48 pm #9592
The response from Silk’s contact hadn’t really said whether he had the stuff, just the location.
It was nowhere as cliched as Redmond, just a quiet working-class area of Renton with a smattering of light industrial sites. Cannon’s rig was in a disused lot next to a factory that made refrigerated display cases for convenience stores and the like. Easy to go unnoticed, much less likely to run afoul hopped-up thriller gangs.
As luck would have it, however, a food truck had parked across the street, ready for the workers to trickle out for their rotating lunch breaks. And, as luck would have it, a couple of KE cruisers had pulled up, four pawns climbing out in search of free soykaf and sandwiches. And, as luck would have it, it had started raining.
Al had parked a couple of blocks away, not wanting his ride connected with any surveillance on Mr. Cannon’s operation. Wounds would heal and gear could be replaced, but good vehicle registrations were hard to come by. He’d scoped the area on foot and was just making his final approach when the cruisers pulled up. He’d blended all right with the refrigerated display case makers, but when the downpour hit and the cops had retreated to their cars and the workers had beat feet back into the factory, Al was left standing out like a sore thumb. Sucking on a cigarette under the narrow awning above the food truck window, he could feel the cops idly running a facial recognition on him as they ate their tuna-and-mayo. Sure, he’d come up as Joey Salesco, same as the SIN he had up on his PAN, but even having his fake ID pinged made him uneasy. Last thing he really needed was Esposito and Pratt paying him a visit.
The food truck closed up before the cops were done eating, and by the time they left he was soaked to the skin and the mildly acidic rainwater had found its way into the pocket of his jacket where he kept his smokes. Figured…lining could handle twenty-thousand volts, but heaven forbid he entrust his Lucky Strikes to its care amid a bit of Seattle precipitation.
Al waited. When he’d first sighted the big trailer, there’d been an ork lounging outside the door. He’d gone in with the rain, and Al figured he should wait for the gatekeeper to come back out before knocking – at least if he didn’t want to queer the deal. If there was a deal.
The tusker took his time. Probably some sort of lame test. The clouds had passed and a bright wet sun was shining on the lot’s rain-drenched weeds when he came back out. Al spit on the street and headed across a couple of pond-sized puddles toward the trailer.
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