North Carolina Newspapers

    10 The Compass Wednesday, October 26,1994
By Paul Cherry
When I saw the troll, I was sure I had
the right team for the job. He was just
over nine feet tall and had a build that
showed where extra muscle tissue had
been implanted. Just looking at him
helped n^e to understand the Humanis
PoUdubs' opinionthatmetahumanswere
monsters. It's not as if these guys loaded
up wifl\ cyberware look all that human
anymore. The rest of the team, except the
ore that was trying to hide heavy armor
under a duster, fit in a lot better. There
was an elf, all in blue, that could easily
have been a high class "joygjrl", two hu
mans, an American Indian (with his face
painted half red and half white), and a
giri in grease-stained overalls. There was
also a dwarf that gave me the sudden
urge to leave. I don't know if it was his
grin, or the gleam in his eye, but I got the
feeling that he weinted to eat me. It didn't
help that we were in an abandoned part
of the Renton Barrens. The Barrens have
a lot of ruined buildings around that
could hide my remains. I was glad all
they had was a beat up CMC Hovertruck
because if I had to, I could always duck
into my limo and beat feet.
The dwarf ^ke up. "So Mr. Johnson,
whatavya got for us?"
"A simple information run with a few
twists."
'Twists?"
"I need you to get some information for
me and I need to go along."
"Who're we hitting?"
"Ares Macrotechnologies."
"That'll cost extra."
"200,000 Nuyen cover it?"
"And expenses."
"Fine. Introduce your team."
'Tm Swiss, The big guy's Taiget, the
ore's Flax, the babe's &pphire, the grease
monkey's Wheels, and the Amer-Ind is
Jester. We all know you, the ambiguous
Mr. J., our contact with our real employ
ers. Who is it this time? Azzies,Renralm,
or is it just one of those little corps that
could be controlled by anyone?"
'Tve got the floor plan, details on their
security, badges that identify us as em
ployees from a flower shop they do busi
ness with, a file number for the info I'm
after, and plates for your...vehicle."
"Let's see the plans," said Jester.
I set the plans, badges, suits, and mag
netic sign on an overturned crate arni let
them go over the information.
Flax said, "I don' believe the security on
this place. Chemical sniffers that could
catch the smell of a bullet at five meters."
Wheels said, "Look at this, pop-down
remote gun turrets in the ceiling."
Tai^ said, "At least, their guard pa
trols are at set times."
Jester said, "If the Info is right."
I spoke up, "The Info's chip truth."
"Yeah, we've heard that one before,"
Target said sarcastically.
Sapphire asked, "What's the Ice situa
tion in the info dump?"
"Non-existent."
"Why is that?". Jester asked.
"They figure that if they can protect the
site physically, and it isn't connected to
the matrix, they don't need Intrusive
Countenneasures on the system. You
can see on the map the path I planned on
us taking. Any problems?"
Flaxsaid, "No problems. As soon as we
finish some biz we'll be ready to go."
"What business?"
"Air-tigjit boxes for the guns."
"You won't need guns. Even if things
go wrong the magic users can blast them
while the two of you take care of anyone
coming into melee range."
"And our magic will do a lot of good
againstarmored sec vehicles.",Jester said.
"Look, there will be no problenris."
'Tanrious last words," Target said.
"Ifyouneedtheboxesgetthenru" Iwas
surprised when a van showed up fifteen
minuteslater. Thedrivergavethemsome
boxes with the logo of the flower shop we
were using as a cover. We all put on the
imiforms, and Wheels took the magne
tized Willy Lilly sign and slapped it onto
the hovertruck.
"What's going on here!? This piece of
rust and plastic is going to outnm the
corporate security if things go bad?"
When ti\ey started laughing, I knew I
had just messed up.
"It's better tfian it looks," Wheels said
in a monotone.
It looked like a hundred other
hovertrucks on the road, except it was
more beat up, run down, and rusted
through than any thing I had seen this
llbamuuM b) Jornahu Brmn
was then that I realized that Wheels
was a rigger, someone whose nervous system is
replaced with cyberware”
side of the scrap heap. Apparently my
ofnnion showed.
Wheels pulled out a couple of wires
from her teg and attached them to her
datajacks. When the turret popped up
with a miniature Gatling gun, I wasn't
impressed. But when the vehicle rotated
and the front grill rolled up to reveal a
missile launcher and an assault cannon, I
almost lost it. I hadn't even heard the
engine start up. Hovertrucks are always
loud, at least, that's what I thought.
The truck boomed at me in Wheels
voice, 'Tve got a tape of engine sounds
that match my appearance. Few people
have a problem with my perfonnance."
It was then that I realiz^ that Wheels
was a rigger, son>eone whose nervous
system is replaced with cyberware. This
allows them to directly interface with
their vehicles to the point where they
almost become their v^cles.
I checked internal memory space,
357412Megapulsesfree,almost two hours
of full sense recording. They weren't the
only ones with cyberware. I had a full
simulated sense rig that would record
everj^nglsensed while itwason. Ifind
that it helps me get more detail in my
stories than other reporters. I can't be-
lievehow well thingsare going, I thought.
I'm part of a Shadowrun, a quasi- or
totallyillegalmissioa I'm sitting with the
cream of the crop of urban predators. I
wondered why each of them were
shadowrunners; were they after money,
fame, or out to accomplish something?
I'd probably never know.
I stopped recording and reviewed the
way I set up the rmet
The time /date stiimp on the recording
read (10:17:36/04-05-53). I was waiting
to meet Ms. Deal at the warehouse with
no name. She was a fixer, a person who
got things done and knew everybody,
but more than that she was my fixer.
"What's up?" asked Ms. Deal.
"I need some shadowrunners."
"Whatforr
'Tve got some information I want to
get from Ares."
"Whataboutr
"Chemical weapons."
"How much?"
"lOOOMp on a non-matrix system."
"When?"
"Now."
"Cut?"
"200,000 for them, 2,000 for you."
"Done. Meet the at grid quadrant2975
by 5625."
"I also need Infomnation about Ares
Headquarters."
"Done."
I had just q?ent more than I made in
two years of normal news reporting for a
chance of the story of the decade. The
thought of catching one of the
megacorporations breaking the multi-
corporatebanonchemicalweaponsnnade
    

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