November 1, 2019 at 7:31 pm #22219
Sunday Noon, October 16, 2078, Touristville, Redmond
It’s mid-October but the weather is unseasonably clear and sunny. Outside temperatures are quite chilly – barely 10 C – especially with a sharp, cutting wind that feels like it’s coming straight out of the Athabaskan Council. The neighborhood is a bit tense because it’s getting close to Halloween – and that means Halloweeners – but there’s a bit of a reprieve during the day while the Halloweeners sleep. Burning things is evidently more fun in the dark.
It’s been about a week since the Runningbird job. Surveillance of the Seattle Investigative Services headquarters didn’t suggest that anything was amiss, nor has anyone come looking for you (yet), so everyone returns home and life is back to normal after a day or two. Which is to say that there’s no clients and not a lot to do.
Mato takes the downtime in stride and signs himself up for some rudimentary training courses, including first aid and a course in basic cybertech maintenance. After following Jawsey and AM around for a couple days, trying to pick up social tips, they clue him into the fact that trailing people and studying them is not necessarily polite. They encourage him to get a new hobby so that he’s not standing around staring at them all the time.
This advice comes back to haunt them when Mato buys a beginner’s drum set, complete with bass drum, snare drum, three toms, hi-hat, and a crash cymbal. Mato, with his cyberware dampeners, cyber-enhanced strength, sleep regulator, and general lack of social awareness, quickly annoys the hell out of everyone else to the point where they banish him and the drum set to Somewhere Else, Anywhere Else. Rumor is that he rented out a U-Store-It self-storage unit and plays there, much to the displeasure of the squatters who are trying to live in adjoining units but who are smart enough not to say anything to him.
It’s under these circumstances that you find yourselves, sans Mato, at headquarters on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Jawsey and AM are out front, being friendly elves who are trying to make nice with the neighbors. Bobby has a beer and is sitting on the front stoop in the sun. somewhat sheltered from the wind that’s whipping litter and debris up and down the street. Sunday is the busiest day for foot traffic in the neighborhood, as it’s still the most common day for many of the local workers to have off. Plenty of people still work, including all the noodle carts and nail salons and brothels, but many HR departments have decided that a day off is actually a prudent investment in the productivity of their workforce. Sunday is the most common day off, due to cultural norms. The team tries to keep HQ well-staffed on the weekend, reasoning that it would be the likeliest time for a wealthy corper to have the day free to come hire the team to do … something.
Out on the street, there’s a commotion. Many of the locals turn, look, and then start to scatter. Turning to see what’s coming, the team sees a dozen or more Crimson Crush gangers, all dressed in red leathers. Almost all of them are orks, but there is one hurking troll in the back and there’s a smaller ork poser (who, despite his efforts, is clearly human) orbiting on the periphery. Most of the orks wear armored vests, the better to show off their biceps.
They look rowdy, maybe a bit buzzed. Many of them have heavy pistols on their hips or shoved into their waistbands, but right now they’re mostly brandishing chains, crowbars, and baseball bats. Bottles of hurlg are passed around, which they could probably throw or break in half for an improvised weapon.
”Yeah, where are your Brain Eaters now?” they ask one of the locals who didn’t get out of the way in time.
”Go tell your Yak lapdogs that this our turf now, savvy?”
”We got Kong-chips! Get ’em while they’re hot!”
”No Kong-chips for you, baby. I got your BTL right here.” (He grabs his crotch.)
They spot you down the street and a cry goes up among them.
”First Nations! You should know better!”
”Where are your colors, Dogmen?? Is it laundry day??” They collectively laugh.
”We rumbled in the Verge! You think it’s going to be any different here?!”November 1, 2019 at 7:57 pm #22224
Bobby took another drag from his beer and looked at the ganger with all the impassiveness that a sated lion has for a prairie dog – a snag that is too much of an effort to get.
At least they had called him First Nations. Quite PC of them, so Bobby was not yet annoyed enough to do something.
Instead he kept staring at them – menacingly…Spoiler:November 1, 2019 at 8:14 pm #22227
Bobby’s mean mug is a source of great mirth for the gangers. It inspires a great deal of derision, some of it contradictory.
”The kind o’ trouble you can gimme? I ain’t scared o’ your mommy, chummer!”
”Hey, chummer, you look ready for trouble. If the price is right, we might wanna buy a sample!”
”Gonna get wet around here, and we ain’t talking about rain, chummer. You wanna be a cutter or a leaker?”
”Whatchu doing here, chummer? Wrong answer! The right answer is, ‘I’m leaving right now.'”
”Yeah, I got a bullet with your name on it. All mine have ‘Spaz’ stamped on them. Getoutahere!”
They laugh and slap each other on the back. The streets continue to clear out at the locals sense the brewing trouble.November 2, 2019 at 1:35 pm #22236
AM gets into the shop, and watches from the window. She prefers to ride it out, and finish shopping when the gang moves on, but when she spots Bobby outside she leaves the shop and seats next to him with her new Submachine gun visible on her side, and the way she wears it implies that she knows how to use it, despite being a delicate and small framed elf. AM does not seem afraid, and her expirience from gangs like that is that showing fear is the last thing to do. So she tries to keep it respectful but unafraid – and to make it clear that they are not random streetwalkers or people to push around.Spoiler:
”Welcome to the hood Crimson Crush”, she declares and raises her canteen ”Cheers!”November 3, 2019 at 12:02 am #22242
While the Crimson Crush gangers – fourteen, now that you count them all – are predominantly male, there are a few females mixed in the group. Perhaps they feel the need to posture because they’re actually some of the most aggressive and rambunctious of the group.
”Welcome?!” one of the female Crush asks, affronted. ”You can’t welcome someone to their own home! This is our turf, got it?”
”You ain’t squat if you ain’t one of us, chummer. You don’t breathe around here without my say-so. Got it?” adds the second.
”Oo, big gun for a little lady!” says the third, showing offer her orkish biceps. She seems to be referring to the Sigma’s drum magazine vis-a-vis AM slight, elvish frame.
The men chime in with their own jabs an jokes. One seems to be referring to AM sitting next to Bobby.
”What’s a looker like you doing with a mug like him? C’mon, let’s play joytoy.” The others bark with laughter.
They hoot and holler. If they continue walking on their previous course, they’ll pass right in front of your stoop.November 3, 2019 at 12:36 am #22245
AM responds by attempting a joke, hoping to deescalate the tension ”He lets me wear red.” she says with a layman response.November 3, 2019 at 4:59 am #22246
Bobby took up the cue and replied: “Do you like to wear red as well? This turf is pretty hard to keep, what with that rain of sharks we keep getting.”
Bobby squinted into the sky to see the ubiquitous pidgeons circling above, looking for discarded food to pick. He was pretty good at judging distances, now it was all a matter of timing.Spoiler:
As soon as he had spoken, two white bellied sharks dropped from the sky in the midst of the gangers, splattering them with shark blood, or rather pidgeon blood
“Maybe you should go inside. It can get really fishy here…”November 3, 2019 at 9:03 am #22248November 3, 2019 at 9:38 pm #22259
Jawsey grins a bit, although not a particularly pleasant grin. He whispers to Bobby “Can you hold the transformation for a bit?”
Then he focuses, twitches his fingers, and his not-so-pleasant grin widens as one of the half-exploded shark corpses rises from the ground and starts circling around the troll.Spoiler:
Jawsey calls out “Look, the spirit has chosen its next target! Levitation doesn’t let him make the shark look like it is swimming, so the effect isn’t as creepy as he would. Then he has an idea after noticing that the jaws of the fish are somewhat intact although the eyes popped out upon impact. Jawsey floats the shark so as to brings its face close up to that of the troll. Putting concern into his voice he yells “DON’T LOOK AT IT’S EYES! Or where they were. They say that it how it get’s into your spirit and starts riding it. It is attracted to violence, so if I were you I’d head to a quiet church and pray to whatever gods or spirits you believe in.” He can’t help but wince a bit — it had seemed like a good idea a few seconds ago, but he doesn’t quite feel that it has served it’s purpose properly.Spoiler:November 3, 2019 at 11:24 pm #22261
>> Drop the levitation when it is time.
Seeing that Jawsey is not at his best, she has her watcher manifest inside the shark and then peek out of its jaw with its buffalo head outside.
As Jawsey drops the levitation, the watcher moves out of the shark, looks around and then hurries into one of the shops, at ridiculous speeds. In parallel, AM removes the growth spells to make the Shark visibly shrink as if its life force escaped it.
Then she returns it to the canteen, invisible to the naked eye. Her amusement increases with each moment of this spectacle.November 5, 2019 at 3:20 pm #22302
Bobby casts, but dividing his attention between targets leads one of his attempts to go awry. His mentor’s mask – usually just a flash – instead locks into place. His eyes darken until his irises are just black extensions of his pupils. His nostrils tighten into angled slits while his ears tuck into his head. His teeth sharpen into serrated triangles. He nicks his tongue with his teeth and tastes a trickle of blood in his mouth. The Beast is pleased with the transformation and decides to keep it for a while.
Meanwhile, two pigeons transform into sharks that utterly fail to maintain their flight. They flap their pectoral fins madly as they dive bomb the pavement below, exploding like nasty water balloons when they hit the pavement. The Crimson Crush jump backwards but several of them are splashed with entrails. One of the dismembered shark corpses levitates and gets right up into the face of the troll, who is having none of it. The troll socks the shark in the snout, and the several other Crush beat it out of the sky with chains and crowbars like some sort of gruesome piñata.
There’s a quiet second as the blood-soaked Crush gather their wits. Then, wordlessly, they fall into formation. Either they’re trained enough to know what to do or they received wireless orders that they’re executing. Half of them establish a perimeter, scanning rooftops, alleyways, windows, and nearby streets for threats. The other half stay focused on Bobby, Jawsey, and AM. They form a loose semi-circle; given your recent Small Unit Tactics training from Jhonney, you understand that they’re trying both to maximize crossfire while simultaneously minimizing the risk that they’ll all be caught in a large blast. It seems that the Crush have had some tactical training too.
One of them – a male ork, large, strong, maybe in his 20s – steps forward slightly to continue the conversation. He has plenty of scars and tattoos in equal measure, some of which are faded enough to show that he’s been in the game a long time. His almond-colored skin is stretched tight over what might be a combination of muscle replacement and dermal plating. His aura seems to suggest as much, plus maybe even some work on his nervous system.
”I’ve had it up the HERE with you, First Nations!” he says as he points a bloody baseball bat in your direction. The end of the bat is wrapped in barbed wire, with nails hammered into it at jagged angles. It drips with shark gore. ”What scared us in The Verge is 2071 AIN’T going to scare us now. You’ve done it, we’ve seen it, and – chip truth – you used to do it better. We learned how to deal with it then and we know how to deal with it now.” The fingers of his free hand drum the grip of the Ruger Super Warhawk in his waistband. ”Magic is a gun, and I’m a mage.”
Half the Crush continue to scan the surrounding neighborhood, as if they’re expecting an ambush, or to be flanked. Maybe they’re looking for Brain Eaters, or materializing spirits.
”If you think you can set up shop in Touristville just by taking off your colors, you’re wrong. DEAD wrong! We got chummers now, and they’ll feng shui your hoops!” It seems futile to point out that’s not a verb. ”You wanna stand and bang? We’ll stand and bang! You and me, Sharky! Any time, any place!”
Those watching the spokesman’s back nod. The mutter among themselves, things like ”smoke ’em out”, ”Hung Kwan”, and ”dodge a wrench”. The atmosphere is tense and it seems like it wouldn’t take much for the Crush to draw their weapons and open fire. A tipped flower pot, a car backfiring, almost anything could set it off.November 5, 2019 at 4:08 pm #22305
“Is that a challenge? Your gun magic vs. my magic magic?” Bobby found it hard to speak. He never had experienced this kind of partial transformation before. The Hunger had to be strong to appear like that.
“How about that? Are you man enough for a fair duell? Just the both of us?”
While he spoke, Bobby let flow some of the power he had into a temporary boost of his speed and enduranceSpoiler:
He stood up and removed his shirt, revealing his skinny, yet ropy upper body. The grey of shark scales glittered here and there.November 5, 2019 at 4:14 pm #22306
AM takes her hands off the gun, and bows politely. Then she walks in a nonthreatening way and explains ”First of all, we are native American… but we are not First Nations or any kind of gang. These are our regular clothes, and we are not here to contest your turf, and we’ll even pay your taxes if you can keep this turf. Speak to the local population, they know us already..”
she pauses and continues, apparently unaffected by the number of guns pointed at her. ”My street name is AM, and these are Jawsey and Bobby. We provide investigative and magical services,.in fact, your predecessors’Yakuza treated us as a useful resource, and possible service providers rather than as victims of random violence. You might want to embrace a similar stance. ”
She risks a slight smile and says ”I mean, you took control over a hood with three fun-loving mages with a strange sense of humor when your own magic stick… is clearly lacking. We tried to keep it friendly and showed no hostility toward you. Are you sure that you want our first encounter to be a violent one? “November 6, 2019 at 1:00 am #22322
AM must have grown up somewhere nice, or where the logical answer would be “no”, but the Crimson Crush – in their various states of intoxication – look like they do want their first encounter to be a violent one.
However, her speech and introductions have taken them aback. There are murmurs among them, and bouncing Adam’s apples that suggest subvocal speech. True gangers would rather die before taking off their colors – and would never disavow their gang verbally – which either means that AM isn’t a ganger… or is a ganger, an insidious one with no respect for norms.
”Never trust an elf,” one of them mutters. Passing off exploding sharks as the product of “fun-loving mages with a strange sense of humor” doesn’t seem to have found much traction, but the offer to pay taxes seems to have triggered a fair amount of discussion.
That leaves the matter of Bobby, who – far from backing down – already has his shirt off. The Crush spokesman looks him up and down. He’s already issued the challenge and certainly can’t retract it – not now, not in public – so it looks like his course is set.
”Not my gun,” he says. ”Just you and me, Sharky. But if you keep the claws, I’m keeping my beatstick. A fair duel indeed.”
Bobby looks down. Sure enough, his nails have formed into sharp talons. It’s not a spell he’s sustaining so there’s nothing to let go of. This seems to be Beast’s doing. The Hunger counsels aggression and unbridled violence.
”You fight until you can’t, or until you tap,” the spokesman continues, pulling out his Ruger and handing it to the female ork at his side. He juts a finger over his shoulder. ”You go too far, they gun you down. Your elves interfere, we turn them into Bonnie and Clyde, then toss what’s left to the 162s. No scalps taken, but I might pick your teeth off the street and stick ’em on the end of my bat here. So ka?”
The Crush step back a bit, clearing the way for the spokesman to step forward. They look serious, like this is a ritualized proceeding and that the results will be honored. But can Bobby keep Beast in check?November 6, 2019 at 2:53 am #22324
AM looks at Bobby and says ”Good luck babe!” Knowing that there is no stopping the violence, she takes a step back and finds a nice place to view the violence with a good cover in case of gunfire. The opening of the nearby shop seems like a good place.November 6, 2019 at 11:30 am #22330
Jawsey had been deep in musings about upgrading the enchantments on his sword cane.
On the plus side, making him even stronger in the astral appealed, but more important was making the focus hold up to higher background counts. An added bonus would be a little more self-defense potential in certain situations.
On the negative side, it would be a lot of money. He’d been pouring as much money as he could into paying down his debts, but he’d need to save up just as much money to power up the focus as far as he wanted. They were supposed to get a discount from Gau on one focus, and if he claimed that it would bring down the nuyen cost, but leave him owing the rest of the team. And if he wasn’t saving up for that, instead he could learn to cast more spells and summon more spirits and work on improving his various magic skills, which all needed the work. Besides which, he seemed to have largely adapted to the local astral unpleasantness, which made his sword a little more useful.
But it seemed that when he really needed the sword, he still would encounter disruptive astral background. And making the first attack count was so key in astral combat …
His thoughts had gone around and around on this track while the neighbourhood carried on as it normally did. People hustling, people trying not to be noticed, gangers strutting, all of that faded into the background of his musings.
He’d barely paid attention to the new group of gangers, and had hoped that the whole floating shark corpse thing would get them to go away. But as Bobby and AM got up and made statements it gradually dawned on him that this was serious. He really should have been the one to have tried to defuse things, but it seemed that Bobby and AM were each having some success in their own way, so perhaps it was best for him not to mess things up right now?
So instead he took a look in the astral, to check for any signs of magical interference, and to asense the ganger that Bobby was preparing to fight.Spoiler:November 6, 2019 at 5:22 pm #22344
“If that’s how you want to play this, sure. But just so you know, that aren’t my claws. Watch.”
Bobby wore his customary jogging pants with the ripp away seams, so he didn’t bother to remove them before letting the transformation ripple across him that he felt himself craving for a while now.Spoiler:
The trousers lept from his legs as his body rapidly increased in mass and hair until the discouragingly large form of an adult grizzly bear stood in front of the ganger.
November 6, 2019 at 10:14 pm #22346
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by Jack_Spade.
AM uses the distraction when Bobby transforms to disappear (literally) and then makes Jawsey invisible too. She quietly makes her way to the back exit of the shop trying not to be heard, or seen. >> J A moment before casting the invisibility on Jawsey she signal him with the sign language “out now!”Spoiler:November 7, 2019 at 8:46 pm #22364
Jersey had up his astral sight when Bobby started on his spell, and Jasser did not expect the dangers to take it well.
He slid off the steps, and started weaving his way to the corner of the building. When AM’s spell embraces him he doesn’t lower his guard, in case one of them sees through it.November 11, 2019 at 3:18 am #22390
Bobby transforms and the gangers immediately go on their guard. Chains, crowbars, and other melee weapons clatter to the ground while they draw heavy pistols with one hand and inhalers – combat stims, probably – with the other hand. To their credit – or foolishness – they don’t try to quick draw. Trigger discipline among the most violent gang in the ‘plex? What’s the world coming to?
The one exception is the spokesman, who keeps a firm grip on his barbed-wire bat. (Whether this is his preferred weapon or because he doesn’t have a gun, having given it to the female ork on his left, is an open question.) He doesn’t back down, nor does he take a step backward, but there is a decided gulp in his Adam’s apple.
”No, no, no,” he says adamantly with his head shaking back and forth. ”This is not what I meant. Too far.”
He seems to trust the other gangers to cover him. The female ork and male human are to his left. Two male orks are to his right. The troll is behind him, and maybe tall enough to shoot over the spokesman’s head. The others Crimson Crush gangers keep an eye on the perimeter, as if expecting an ambush at any second.
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