"Shadowrun Duels: Datafile [ III ]"
A Shadowrun Novella in Five Parts
Find out how the characters of Shdowrun Duels met and what they got up to on their first run into the shadows...
What is Shadowrun?
"It is the latter half of the 21st century. Magic has returned to the world, awakening powerful creatures of myth and legend. Technology merges with flesh and consciousness. Elves, trolls, orks and dwarves walk among us, while ruthless corporations bleed the world dry. You are a shadowrunner – a mercenary living on the fringes of society, in the shadows of massive corporate arcologies, surviving day-by-day on skill and instinct alone. When the powerful or the desperate need a job done, you get it done... by any means necessary."
Shadowrun is a science fantasy setting based in a near-future universe in which cybernetics, magic and fantasy creatures co-exist. Thematically it combines the genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction.
What is Shadowrun Duels?
Shadowrun Duels was a collectible miniatures game produced by WizKids back in 2003, set in the world of Shadowrun.
Unusually the Shadowrun Duels 'miniatures' are big 1:12 scale action figures each with a separate base that has three Clix dials. This twist on their single dial Heroclix range allows the figures to take damage in one of three areas (Head, Weapon, or Body) as they fight during the game.
A clever multi coloured dice based mechanic also allows for a level of roleplaying to be easily included in scenarios along with multiple options for different equipment and weaponry that can be chosen from before each game.
//Begin Datafile 3.1//
> G-Dogg was right: I didn’t like his suggestion for where we were going to get more information about the disk. Reasons? How much time have you got? Short version: Taking anything like this to Lothan is risky, because before you know it he’s taken over the whole show and shuffled you off to the sidekick role. He can’t stand to be anything but in charge of any project he’s involved with, and once he goes all “Master of the Mystic Arts” on you, you’d better get out the hip waders ’cause it’s gonna get deep pretty fast.
You might get the impression from this that I don’t like the guy. That’s not completely true. I mean, I did sort of “apprentice” with him, if you want to use the word. I wouldn’t use that word, but you can bet that he does. I studied with him for a while, before we got on each other’s nerves so badly that we couldn’t stand to work together, giving it up as a bad job. The guy’s a good mage, there’s no arguing that. He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of power, and he’s been around long enough to have seen a lot of things – if only he didn’t have to be so fraggin’ pompous about it. Anybody who thinks Elves are full of themselves has obviously never met “Lothan the Wise.” Yeah, that’s what he calls himself, can you believe it?
In spite of my objections, however, I had to agree that if we were going to find out more about the disk, Lothan might be a good place to start. So we started his way before I could change my mind.
Lothan’s house (he’d probably prefer to call it his “sanctum sanctorum” or some such) was a lot like Lothan himself: big, mysterious, and overly pretentious. He lives on Capitol Hill, and I have to admit he’s got some pretty nice digs. If I could stand to stay in the same place for longer than a few days at a time, I might even like to live somewhere like it. Part of what’s cool about his doss – especially for a mage like me – is all the magical bric-a-brac he’s got scattered around. I’ve seen lore shops that don’t have as much stuff as Lothan has. He was a little too fond of dead-tree books for my tastes, but I did have some happy memories of my days studying with him and having the run of his place.
He didn’t seem surprised to see us. His door swung open as we reached the porch, and I figured he still had a spirit or two on the lookout for visitors. “Ah,” he said, sounding satisfied, “I thought you might be paying me a visit. Please come in.” Wondering just how much G-Dogg had told him, I glanced at the Ork, but he just shrugged.
I shouldn’t have been surprised – old Lothan’s eyes lit up like Christmas trees when I pulled out the disk. I handed it over (a little reluctantly, wondering if I’d ever see it again), and he made his usual show of studying it, turning it this way and that in his huge hands and peering at it from every angle. “Ah, yes,” he said at last. “Orichalcum, but I am sure you already know that.” He was looking at me when he said it. “A nice trinket, Liada, my dear. Probably worth more than the life of the scientist you were supposed to liberate.”
He looked at the rest of the group and dropped into what I call his “lecturer mode.” “Orichalcum, as some of you might be aware, is a powerful and very rare mystical material, used primarily by magicians as a means to focus the energy of potent spells. It is almost always man made and rarely occurs in a natural state. This disk appears to be made of the natural form of the substance, thus making it even more rare and valuable.”
“That’s all well and good,” Silver Max put in, “but what’s that got to do with us? Why don’t we just sell the thing and get rid of it before somebody else comes after us?”
I took a breath to protest, but Lothan beat me to it. He looked positively stricken at the thought of simply selling such an interesting artifact. “I have a counterproposal for you,” he said smoothly, holding up the disk. “Since it appears that dangerous individuals are seeking you because you possess this item, I would be happy to hold on to it for you for a while – for safekeeping, as it were – until you are able to determine your course of action.”
After that I’m not sure exactly what happened, except to say that Lothan might be a windbag, but he’s a fraggin’ tough windbag who packs a mean magical punch. His offer was scarcely out of his mouth when everybody was protesting at once. It was pretty clear to all of us that Lothan wasn’t inclined to give up the disk without a fight (I could have told them that – he’s not a guy to let go of such a fascinating magical trinket once he gets his hands on it), and it was just as clear that my teammates weren’t ready to let go of the thing. We were five of us against one of him, right?
That almost made it a fair fight.
Last thing I remember before the lights went out was Lothan rearing back, rising to his full height, and raising that big staff of his in one hand and the disk in the other, thundering out some magical incantation that I didn’t recognize (I guess he didn’t get around to teaching me that one before I bailed). A bright light flashed around us. All around me I could hear the sound of bodies hitting the ground. I think a couple of my teammates managed to get shots in before they dropped, but I’m not sure who. All I know is that I was getting really tired of being tossed across rooms.
> I hate magic drek.
And not just the magic itself, you understand, but the spell worms who toss it around.
I hate how all superior and mysterious they are. Load a crap. Like this Lothan clown. Big, ugly, deep voice, long silences, meaningful looks. He’s got medals and beads and drek all over himself and his place.
But is he the real deal or just a Troll in funny clothes?
Look. On the street, let’s say you’re running with a gang and you learn a move, like . . . a spin kick. Okay. You use this move and surprise somebody and win a fight. Very good. But you’d better not crow too loud because one move ain’t enough. One day you find yourself facing somebody with a counter or eight feet of Troll or somebody who hits you before you move. You can’t live on knowing one move.
But magic’s different. I didn’t know if this Lothan slot could turn us into devil rats with a word or darken the sky. He sure acted like he could conjure Dragons out of thin air, but what the hell did any of us know. Maybe he was just living on a spin kick.
The only one who could clue us was Liada; she obviously had a history with the guy. So without intel we’re left guessing. It annoyed the hell out of me. I can size up most folks pretty damn fast. I know who has the goods and who is all gas, but when it comes to spell worms, I’m clueless. I hate that.
> Drek! I trusted the Troll, dammit! I knew he was a covetous old bastard when it came to magical trinkets and such, but I didn't expect him to stab me in the back over it. One minute, he's lecturing us on orichalcum, the next he's saying he wants to keep the disk. For safe keeping, of course. I had barely gotten my mouth open to protest when his first spell slammed into Silver Max, dropping the Dwarf like a sack of bricks.
I dove to one side as more magic went off, grabbing one of the folding chairs the Troll had trotted out to make room for my group. Now, Lothan’s a Troll, which means he’s a big boy. A really big boy, standing a bit over two-and-a-half meters tall. This also means that normal furniture won't hold up under his weight, so he’s got to buy heavy-duty stuff. The folding chair was no exception, and I slammed that across his snout with everything I was worth. The chair folded nearly in half wrapping around his face. I pulled the twisted chair back, expecting to see him drop.
Instead, he simply growled down at me, blood dripping from his busted nose. His eyes flashed with a reddish light, and then a freight train slammed into my brain. I dropped to the floor, clutching my skull. I'd seen others get nailed by Lothan’s mana bolts, and until now I had never had the misfortune of being on the receiving end. I blinked back tears of pain and looked up in time to see a white bolt of magical energy arc down at me, and then everything went dark.
>There was little time to act. Lothan must have had a contingency plan for something like this, for he cast spells faster than I have ever seen anyone else work. His eyes glowed red, and arcs of white light shot from his hands at Max. Max’s eyes rolled back in his head, and he dropped to the floor unconscious. He was not bleeding and there was no fire, so I could only assume Lothan did not intend to actually kill any of us. Somehow, however, that gave me no comfort.
G-Dogg was closest to Lothan and acted first, slamming a folding chair around Lothan’s skull. Unfortunately, he underestimated the Troll’s physical capabilities. It took only a moment for Lothan to cast a similar spell on all of us, including G-Dogg, who clutched at his head, groaned with pain, and fell over. As he fell, Karkhov and Liada fell soon after as the spell coursed over the room like a wave before slamming into me.
The light hit me harder than any opponent ever had, a bright white pain smashing into my skull and moving straight on through. I felt blinded, although I could still see Lothan across the room. A moment later, however, the pain evaporated as though it had never been. I had resisted his spell, and I stood alone against Lothan, with the bodies of my companions lying sprawled across the floor around us.
“Nicely handled, Lothan. A bit stronger, and I might have fallen as well.”
The Troll nodded, a smug smile on his face. “I will remember not to underestimate you next time.”
I nodded. “Now, if you will be so kind as to surrender the disk?”
Lothan just looked at me. From his expression, he was wondering whether I was deranged or just amusing. He settled for the latter as a smile crept across his face, widening into a grin and punctuated by deep, throaty laughter. “You are quite the comedienne, Ms. . . . Kyushi, is it?” He chuckled some more. “Surely you see that you’re in no position to make demands, especially with your friends so unfortunately disabled?”
“I am glad to have provided you with amusement, but I am afraid you are mistaken. You will not be able to leave this house so long as I stand, and I assure you that you will not take me by surprise again.” I held up the dagger I had hidden in my palm. “Mass murder is a messy business, and surely not one you wish to have in your sanctum.”
Lothan shook his head. “I can have you removed if necessary, my dear. The same applies to you as to me. Thus far, I can see no compelling reason to surrender my prize.”
“Think on this, then.” I pointed the dagger at Lothan’s feet, where G-Dogg lay unconscious. “The disk is a trade for my silence.” The smile slipped from Lothan’s face, but he managed not to look at G-Dogg’s body. “We may not have met before, but I certainly know who you are – and what you have done. There are those who would not rest until you paid for your . . . mistake, and one such rests at your feet.”
Lothan grimaced, and then nodded. “I am afraid, my dear, you have me at a disadvantage.” He heaved a heavy sigh, and then tossed the disk onto the table. “How very disappointing.”
I could only smile in return.
//Begin Datafile 3.2//
>If I ever thought I needed confirmation that magic sucks, that troll fragger provided it in spades. He wants to keep the disk, we say no, and he throws his weight (magic drek) around. Zipp bang! I’m asleep. Apparently, after he knocked me out, he threw some more spells and took out everybody who wasn’t a spell worm. Kyushi said she talked him out of keeping the disk, but who knows what really happened. Beyond that, though, my question is who the frag does Lothan think he is, putting us to sleep so he could get the disk?
See, this is what I hate about magic. If a group came to me and I decided I wanted to “hold” the loot from a run, and I used my blades to make up their minds for them, my rep would be in the drekker forever after. I’d be seen as a scum suckin’ raider. But a spell worm pulls the same drek with magic and next week the same clowns he ripped off will be working with him, null persp.
It’s like, if magic’s involved, the rules don’t apply. Not only didn’t we throw down on the troll then and there, but nobody was talking about payback later for what he had just tried. It involved magic, so the suck was getting a free pass.
I did a quick inventory in my head: Hired to snatch a science wonk; the cit gets blown away by the orc who brought me into the job in the first place; and the orc says he has secret instructions from the Johnson.
We confront the Dogg about why; he calls the Johnson to confirm his story; and we hear from Wolf Nev that we’ve got bounties on our heads. Seconds later, Ares sec troops show up. We run.
Turns out one of us did a little freelance: Liada stole a disk, which just happens to be magical. Tasty move. Now we go to another spell worm to find out what we’ve got and what happens? He starts slinging mana to take it away from us.
I couldn’t see it. This was not the job I signed on for. This was a different job. This was a job of fragging around with some magical geegaw. We didn’t know what it was, what it did, what it was worth, who wanted it, or why. We just had it ’cause one of us was a clepto. Oh, and the other parts of this new job were we were targets for everybody in the shadows while Ares hunted for us.
I didn’t like this different job.
I told the orc that I was quitting.
Needless to say, G-Dogg wasn’t happy.
“How can you pull out in the middle of a run, omae?” he asked. “Doesn’t the team – the job – mean anything to you?”
“No, vato. The job I was hired for ain’t the job we’re on now. The job we’re on now is courtesy of the elf biff’s five-finger discount. The job we’re on now is fragging with magic drek that you and me and Max and Kyushi don’t know nothing about. The only one who knows is the elf who stole the drek to begin with! How do you figure this job rates my loyalty?”
Before he could say a word, I plowed on. “And as far as the team goes, you held back the wetwork part of the instructions, Liada freelanced us into this drek, and I’m pretty sure that Johnson put us between a rock and a hard place.” The ork held up his hands like he wanted to get a word in edgewise, but I was rolling.
“I like Max okay, but I ain’t getting waxed for a fragger I just met, and as far as Kyushi goes, she’s honorable enough but I know she’s got other bosses she answers to, so now that we’re on a completely different run than the one we started on, it’s an open question when her loyalties will conflict.
“No, Dogg. I may risk my skin for cred, but I won’t throw it away. There’s no percentage in pretending this team is anything more than a group of runners cluelessly getting swept up in something they aren’t prepared for. I never do runs with magic drek, and that’s what this has become.”
I could see the ork was frustrated but when he growled something about rep, I went right back at him.
“Cuts both way, omae. Cuts both ways. You pulled me in for one job and then expected me to work a totally different one. You never mentioned wetwork. You never mentioned magic. Your Johnson put us out of sanction in the shadows.
“Yeah, you could make my rep suffer for jumping ship – if you survive, if you can get the bounty lifted, if Ares doesn’t catch you, and if you’re willing to have your rep trashed as well.”
At this point G-Dogg cooled me out. He explained that he wasn’t threatening my rep; he was about to say that I had a rep for being loyal and not losing my head when the rubber meets the road. He went on to say that he’d picked me for muscle and accepted my arguments about Kyushi because I was reliable. I felt like an ass.
It didn’t change my mind about leaving, however. "Look, I'm a professional," I told him. "We all are, but Liada screwed up. She put the entire team at risk by lifting that disk. She's not only put our reps on the line, but also our lives. She fragged up, and she should be the one to pay the price – not us!"
"Yeah, she screwed up," Dogg replied angrily. "But we're a team. You each signed on for good or bad; you have to see this through to the end."
"We're not family, G-Dogg." I replied. "We're not even friends. We're barely colleagues. And sometimes, when runs go badly enough, you have to cut your losses and walk away."
>When I came to, my head was throbbing and Lothan was standing over me looking extremely guilty. I was lying on a couch, and as I sat up I saw Max, Karkhov, and Liada in similar states of pain. I rubbed my head in a futile attempt to dispell the headache, and felt the crust of dried blood near my ears. That was one doozy of a manabolt Lothan had hit me with.
The only one who looked like she'd stayed on her feet was Kyushi. She explained that she managed to talk some sense into the troll, and he'd agreed to let us retain the disk. That was good news, at least. I sat back and massaged my temples some more. Lothan handed me some aspirin and a glass of water, which I accepted gratefully.
"So, what's our next move, boss?" Silver Max spoke up. He winced, apparently having spoken too loudly. I looked around and saw that Lothan had left the room for the moment, getting more aspirin or something.
"We need someplace else to go and discuss our plans." Liada replied. "The troll doesn't seem to know much more than we do, and right now I trust him even less than normal."
"Agreed, I –" I cut off as I saw Lothan lumbering back into the room, a tea tray in his hands. "I think that staying here just puts Lothan at risk. We need to find someplace to hole up and examine this thing, as well as plan."
Lothan looked down at me as I spoke, and he nodded in agreement. I made a phone call to a friend and obtained the passcode to a small warehouse not too far from Lothan's place that we could use as a safehouse. Hanging up, I stepped back into the room and told the crew to pack up, and we headed out to Max's van.
"G-Dogg," Karkhov said as we exited Lothan's place. "I’m done here."
"What?" I was shocked. Of the group, he was the last one I'd expected to bail on us just because it got a little rough. He pulled me to the side while the rest of the group headed to the van to let me talk to the street samurai in private.
He tried explaining to me that it wasn't personal. It was magic – not his department and not something he wanted to try handling. I argued back, telling him that we were a team and still needed his help. It was no use, though.
"Look, I'm a professional." He told me pointedly. "We all are, but Liada screwed up. She put the entire team at risk by lifting that disk. She's not only put our reps on the line, but also our lives. She fragged up, and she should be the one to pay the price – not us!"
"Yeah, she screwed up," I replied angrily. I didn't like people bailing on a job, even one as messed up as this was. Especially one that had gone this badly. "But we're a team. You each signed on for good or bad; you have to see this through to the end."
"We're not family, G-Dogg." He replied. "We're not even friends. We're barely colleagues. And sometimes, when runs go badly enough, you have to cut your losses and walk away."
My headache pounded away as I watched him leave, his words echoing in my ears.
> Y’know, I just have to say that by this point, it couldn’t have been going any better if I’d planned it myself. There I was, the goal in my sights and nothing to keep me from it. The visit to Lothan had verified the disk was in their possession, as had that little squabble in his living room. My, but isn’t he a greedy little magician? I don’t know how they got it back from him, but I’m glad they did. Doesn’t do to have anyone else horning in on my job security – in the form of one orichalcum magical doohickey.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased with Karkhov leaving. Of course, I was pleased. Everyone else sticking together meant the disk was still with them, and now I had one less person to fight for it. On top of that, you could cut the tension between Liada and everyone else with a knife. G-Dogg was trying to hold it together, but it was pretty obvious where the disk – and the hostility – lay. I could practically feel the disk in my hands already. If everything went well, I’d be back in Mr. Johnson’s good graces by morning – something that couldn’t happen too soon, if you asked me.
//Begin Datafile 3.3//
> "The rest of us need to stay together until this is over," I told the remainder of my team, which was huddled around a cheap folding table in a dark, musty warehouse. "Whoever is after us is more than willing to knock us off to get this disk. We need some options here, folks, and we need them quick."
A few options seemed workable. We could try to smuggle the disk back into the Ares facility, hoping that by returning it we'd turn the heat off of us. We could try giving it to Mr. Johnson, hoping that he wasn't the one to sell us out originally or that it would get him to chill if he was. Or we could sell the disk to the highest bidder, take the money, and lie low. None of the options were ideal, but they were all we really had.
Our discussion was interrupted as the skylight above our heads shattered, spraying us with glass. Two figures fell through it, crushing the table. They rolled over, and I was surprised to recognize the bandana atop one of the figures’ heads: Karkhov! He threw off the person he was fighting with and stood, as did his opponent. I recognized her immediately, an elf who was adept at covert jobs: Midnight.
Midnight spun and delivered a kick that dropped Karkhov. She turned to face us as I lifted my shotgun and pointed it at her skull. I glanced at the others out of the corner of my eye and saw they were likewise ready to drop her if she so much as twitched wrong.
"Okay, you got me," she said as she put her hands up.
> It never fails, you know. You think you’ve got everything going right, and you get cocky. That’s when that one thing that you forgot about comes right back to kick you in the hoop, every single time.
So the group had conveniently settled on a nice abandoned warehouse with nobody around. Perfect, right? No security to worry about and the whole little party inside too wrapped up in their own personal dramas to worry about anyone else. It was like taking candy from a chiphead.
Or so I thought.
So here I was, up on the roof, edging up to an oh-so-convenient skylight above the group. I’d edged over to the glass panel, oiled the hinges, and I’m just starting to ease it open when I hear a voice behind me. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, sweetie.”
Drek. Karkhov. The one I forgot about. “I thought you’d said sayonara to this little party.”
“I did. Of course, then I saw you sneaking around and trailing Max’s van in that sweet little ride of yours.”
“So what’s it to you?” I turned around and stood up. He was about 15 feet away, swords sheathed. Maybe I could talk my way out of this. “I thought you said something about ‘cutting your losses and walking away?’”
Karkhov smirked, and then shrugged. “Walking away from a troublemaker when things are quiet is one thing. Walking away when you see someone about to ambush them – that’s something else altogether.”
“I’m just here for the disk, omae. That’s all. I’ve got no beef with anyone else here. Why else would I have warned Max about the spellslinger’s little five-finger discount?”
Karkhov just smiled. “I don’t know, and I don’t care. As far as I know, you sent that fraggin’ troll after us in the first place. You could be Dunkelzahn himself reborn, but I’ve got no way of knowing. It still wouldn’t change what I’m about to do.”
So much for talking my way out of this.
I took a small step away from the skylight, toward him. “Look. There’s no reason for this to get nasty. I gave it a shot, you caught me. We’re even. How about I just vanish and let you get back to . . . whatever it is you do.”
I sighed. No choice but to keep going. “All right, then, you had your chance.”
I dropped back into my stance, waiting for him to make the first move. He may be one hell of a skilled fighter on the ground, but precarious places are my specialty. Odds were good he’d slip and fall long before I did, so long as I could keep him off of me.
Karkhov’s grin got wider then. He stroked his chin thoughtfully, then – bam! Out of nowhere, he bounded right over the roof and was on top of me. I dodged mostly out of the way, but the charge clipped me on the side of the head. I righted myself quickly and dodged a couple more blows, all the while he’s grinning at me like a kid at an amusement park.
That was about the time I got tired of it. I thought he’d be a little nervous being up so high, but he was feeding off the danger. While I appreciated the sentiment, there was no way I was going to stay up here with a lunatic who liked fighting on the edge. I backed up into position and then lunged, throwing my entire weight into him. He grabbed at me for balance, but I’d already committed myself to the fall. You don’t play on rooftops unless you know how to land without killing yourself. Glittering shards of glass from the skylight raced us down to the warehouse floor.
The landing was hard, but not as hard as it might have been. As it was, we hit some sort of table first, taking a lot of the force out of the fall. As soon as we landed, I flipped up to my feet. To his credit, he did too, though I could tell he was hurting. I went for the coup de grace: a spinning kick to the head before he could fully get his bearings. He dropped like a sack of wet cement.
I turned, ready to carry it on to Liada and grab the damned disk, but instead I ended up eye to eye with G-Dogg’s shotgun. There’s no job worth your life, my friends. Not one. I put my hands up and surrendered.
Max recognized me right away, pointing out our little tête-à-tête at Bar None. I fessed up to it, of course, and that sent the others into a frenzy of questions, G-Dogg leading. Why was I following them? How did I know about the disk? And all that. I couldn’t blame them. Of course, there was no way to tell them some of it without really telling them all of it, and they’d probably earned it by now.
You see, we were all working for the same Mr. Johnson.
Yeah, that was about the reaction they had, too. They were even more pleased to hear that I was the one who hit the alarm when they were about to nab the scientist. That was all part of the plan, though. G-Dogg and his bunch were hired to play decoy. They cause a disruption and remove the scientist (one way or another), and then I grab the disk. A perfect little smash-and-grab job, only with someone else doing the smashing. Couldn’t get much better than that.
To say that G-Dogg was less than thrilled would be a masterpiece of understatement. I was lucky his temper seemed reserved for my employer. Even hearing that I’d tipped off Ares to their location at the bar didn’t faze him too much, though Liada and Max were extremely displeased by that.
“Look. It’s not my fault Miss ‘Ooh, Shiny!’ here took the disk. None of this would have been necessary if she hadn’t decided she needed a fringe benefit.”
Liada’s eyes darkened then, and you could practically see steam coming out of her ears. “Why the hell did you think getting corp sec after us was ‘necessary?’”
“They weren’t supposed to kill you. Heck, you took out the security at the Ares compound, so I knew there wasn’t much they could do to hurt you. They were just supposed to soften you up a bit.”
“Why?” G-Dogg’s eyes narrowed, and I could tell he knew something was coming. I mentally sighed. This part wouldn’t be fun. It was time to put an end to our little discussion.
“For the other team. You get weakened, the other team takes out the wounded, and they make off with the prize.”
And away we go. . . .
> I can’t say I was sorry to see Karkhov go. Okay, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did to grab the disk, but you don’t walk out on your team in the middle of a run. That’s no more professional than what he accused me of. If we were going to get out of this alive, we were going to have to put our heads together and come up with a solution. At least Kyushi was able to convince Lothan to let us keep the disk. I don’t know how she did it, but I gained a bit more respect for her because of it. Anybody who can stand up to that troll and actually get her way is worthy of my respect.
We headed off to discuss our options at a nearby warehouse. It was pretty clear to all of us that we had to do something, because the opposition was ready to cack the lot of us to get their toy back.
From high above, the sound of splintering glass split the night. A barrage of shards rained down on us, followed by two forms locked in combat. We just missed getting squashed by Karkhov and a black-clad elf woman. The two hit the ground rolling and kept on fighting, barely seeming to notice us.
Before we could act, it was over. The elf woman delivered a crushing kick to Karkhov’s jaw, dropping him like yesterday’s news. It was only then that she noticed us – and the various weapons we had trained on her. Knowing she was caught, she raised her hands in surrender.
Her name’s Midnight, and she decided to talk rather than get ventilated. Smart woman. Surprise, surprise: She’s behind most of the drek that’s been falling on us ever since the run went south. She admitted to setting off the alarm at the Ares facility, and she was the one who was supposed to grab the disk in the scuffle. She was also behind the corp sec attack at Bar None. “If they’d done their jobs,” she said, “the other team would take out the wounded and grab the disk.”
“What other team?” Max demanded. I was starting to get a very bad feeling about this.
Midnight moved before any of us could stop her. She whipped something off her belt and threw it down at my feet. Flash grenade! Fraggit! I staggered backward, clutching at my eyes, and quick as that I felt someone reaching for my satchel. The disk! I couldn’t see, but I could damned sure hit. I flailed blindly at her, feeling satisfaction as one of my blows connected solidly and she dropped back. I jammed my hand in my satchel, panicking until I felt the familiar, cool round form. I got maybe two seconds of relief as my vision cleared, expecting to see Midnight in the grip of one or more of my teammates.
Instead, they were all looking very, very scared. I looked around. We were surrounded – and standing right in front of me was the tall ugly form of Wolf Nev. He was smiling.
This was not going to be fun.
> When the flash bang went off, I happened to be on all fours behind a crate trying to reach a kozuka (small knife mounted on the hilt of the katana) that had been dislodged in the fight. I was shielded from much of the effect of the grenade, so I was able to get a look at the team that had come in after us.
I recognized Kross. A big ork legbreaker who was connected to the maf. This was going to be unpleasant; I knew he packed a lot of firepower and I’d heard he had a particular desire for Kyushi.
The second figure I saw was a dwarf. Not only was he a dwarf, but a dwarf. The sucker looked like he stepped out of a Neil the ork barbarian episode, complete with chainmail and helmet. I didn’t know his name, but I guessed if he walked around like that he was a couple of sandwiches short of a full picnic.
Wolf Nev I knew from our earlier encounter. The troll banger hadn’t gotten any smaller or less troll-like, and by his expression I guessed he wasn’t happy that Ares had interrupted our last meeting.
I recognized the last figure by reputation. The Street Preacher, all dark glasses, black hat, and white face paint – and he seemed to be looking for me in particular. As soon as he saw me he roared a “Hallelujah” and flicked on his vibro blade. I pulled Katana and Wakasahi and grinned back at him.
I found this fantastic Shadowrun Duels story tucked away on he old Shadowrun Duels Yahoo Group. It was seemingly written way back in 2003 and I included it in the 2021 and 2022 Advent Calendars without permission from the author as I failed to track them down. Part III was first published on Orcs in the Webbe as the eleventh entry in the 2022 Advent Calendar.
Shadowrun Duels is now out of print but the figures can be found every now and again on eBay, alternatively you can use any number of near future or sci fi miniatures to represent Runners in your games of Shadowrun.
The Shadowrun Duels rules including Jeremy Schwennen's expanded Shadowrun Duels Reloaded can be found in PDF format here on OITW.
For anyone not familiar with Shadowrun there are a variety of places on the internet you can learn more, one of which is the game's Wikipedia page here.