Life in the Shadows

Smoking Faces

“Smokin-Faces” by Dominic Smith

The call came in over Deebo‘s telecom. It was Duece. Deebo knew that meant it would be payday soon, and man, did he need it. The job Deus described sounded easy enough. It would be a data extraction, but instead of pulling it out of a system somewhere, Deus wanted Deebo and his team to pull it out of some poor slags head. There was a bonus if the host of the data was brought in alive, but Deebo knew the Johnson was more concerned about the data than anything else.
Deebo called the team together, and passed on the details of the run and a picture of the mark. There was only a small window to get the job done. Just two days, then the target was supposedly hopping an airship and leaving Seattle. He was on the run from something. That left little time to prepare or collect intel, so the team hit the streets right away and started their legwork.
Deebo and the team reached out to their contacts, but nobody could find a line on the target. With such little time to work, Deebo knew that the teams hacker was probably their only shot at finding any info. The hacker started with the airship company, because other than the name of the guy, that was the only other info they had that was linked to the target. Jack ’’Cooper" Manhattan, the teams hacker was able to breach the travel companies server, and match the image of the target with an ID picture on the passenger manifest… but the name on the manifest didn’t match up with the name the team had. Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan found the credit account number used to reserve the tickets for the airship flight, and followed the credit trail back to the targets bank. The SIN and the account the target was using belonged to Thomas Smith; probably not his real name, but the credits in his bank account were real enough, and he was spending them fast. The target shelled out over ¥250k nuyen in the last couple of days, renting out an expensive room at a hotel near SeaTAC, and spending large amounts on what sounded like a personal security detail. With the charges at the hotel being recent and close to where the airship was supposed to disembark from, Deebo and the team assumed that the hotel would be a good place to start looking for their mark. He took the team, except for the hacker who was still trying to gather matrix intel, to stake out the hotel.
The hotel looked like your run of the mill airport commuter hotel. Twelve stories, mirrored glass, and likely minimal security. The team had hit harder targets and lived through it, if the hotel was going to be the scene for their extraction, they would make it work. Nelson “Loche” Laramie, the teams muscle, posted up in the hotel bar hoping to catch a glimpse of the target or his security detail, and also to put away a few drinks. <mage>, the mage decided to summon a spirit to help locate Mr. Smith, but while he was wiggling his fingers and lighting candles, Deebo got restless. He decided that the best way to get info was to just ask for it. Despite being an Ork, Deebo had always been a charming guy; and just his luck, one of the clerks at the front desk was a female Ork. This run’s starting to look easy, he thought.
Deebo walked up to the lady Ork and gave her the toothiest tusk filled smile he could muster. He came up with some story about delivering a message to a guest at the hotel, but being given the wrong room number for the client. The clerk couldn’t resist Deebo’s charm, and gladly give him the correct room number. P2, one of the penthouses. Deebo left the front desk and moved out of the clerks sight. He called Nelson “Loche” Laramie back to their car, and passed along the info. Their target was not only still at the hotel, but he had one of the biggest suites in the joint. By the time Deebo and Nelson “Loche” Laramie got back to the car, V’Zier Maurid had finished his summoning, and was getting ready to send his new spirit companion to scan the hotel. With the new info, the spirit moved its ethereal body to the penthouse.
When the spirit came back, it passed along some concerning news. There were 12 warm bodies in the penthouse, three times as many guys as Deebo and his team had. With night fast approaching, they decided that they needed more intel before they made a plan or took any action. Hitting the hotel was an option, but being outgunned three to one didn’t sound like good odds. Deebo took the first shift of casing out the hotel from the parking lot, and let the other runners head back to the safehouse for some rest.
Around 11:30 PM, Deebo was woken up by what sounded like a semi-truck rolling over his vehicle. As he rubbed his eyes open, he saw a well armored Ares Citymaster with security company markings pull up to the front of the hotel. Ten guys, well armed and armored jumped out, and in perfect tactical formation headed in to the hotel. Ten minutes later, ten different guys walked out of the hotel and loaded in to the Citymaster. After seeing what his team was up against, the firepower and professionalism of the security detail, Deebo knew that surprise was going to be their only hope. If they waited for the target to leave the hotel, they would likely have to deal with his security detail and the possibility that they would be rolling around in near tank-like armored vehicles like the Citymaster he just saw. If they tried to take the target out at the airport, they would likely have to deal with all the security SeaTAC had to throw at them, not to mention any quick reaction police forces nearby, on top of the personal security detail. The hotel was likely the teams best bet to get the job done and live through it. Deebo called up the team and told them to get ready. They would hit the hotel at dawn.
<hacker> was able to get past the hotel’s security node, and park an agent program there to run overwatch. He also found hidden cameras in the penthouse, which gave the team eyes on the interior of the room. While scoping out the interior of the penthouse with the hidden cameras, <hacker> also spotted something that threw a wrench in their plans: the only two people not dressed in security team gear looked exactly like the photo they had of their target. Their mark was using a body double. With this new knowledge, the team decided that hitting the room soon was the right move, because if the target and his security detail split in to two groups, Deebo and his team would also have to be divided which significantly lowered their chances of success.
The team of shadowrunners moved through the lobby, using suitcases to carry in and disguise their weapons. Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan also dabbled as a rigger, and the team decided that his drones would play an key part in breaching the hotel room. The plan was for one of the riggers aerial drones to open fire on the windows of the hotel room and draw the security teams fire. With the distraction, Deebo and V’Zier Maurid would breach the front door, and Nelson “Loche” Laramie would repel from the roof. The runners were hoping to catch the security team by surprise enough times that they could quickly take out a few members of the security detail to even the numbers out. It was a solid plan, but that doesn’t mean much on a run, especially with Deebo’s team. Plans always had a way of going sour.
The first hitch in the plan happened when Nelson “Loche” Laramie and Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan got to the roof. There was a nice and shiny transport helicopter just sitting there, with the same markings as the armored vehicle that carried the security detail. The team decided to carry out the same plan, but instead of having <hacker> breach the room, he would cover the exit to the coptor and try hack it and keep it grounded until their team was ready to leave. With Deebo and <mage> in position in the hallway in front of the penthouse, it was time for the team to act. <hacker> issued a command for his drone to drop down and open fire on the hotel room.
The drone blasted open a two meter hole in the mirrored glass, but wasn’t able to lock on to any targets before it got taken out by the fast reacting security detail. By the sound of measured return fire coming from the other side of the wall, Deebo knew it was his turn to cause some damage. He yanked his AK-98 out of the cheap piece of luggage that was carrying it, and leveled it’s grenade launcher at the front door of the penthouse suite. The door and part of the wall went splintering off. It was show time. V’Zier Mauridmoved up first, and peered around the corner. Through the smoke and dust, Deebo saw the mage wiggling his fingers and mouthing something inaudible over the sounds of gunshots and the ringing in his ears from the breaching of the front door. As Deebo stepped up to the hole that used to be the doorway he saw a ball of light leave the mages fingers and fly in to the room. Stepping behind the mage, Deebo moved in to the door way in time to see the ball of light land between one of the security guards and one of the guys that looked like the target. But the spell seemed to have little effect on either. Before Deebo could react, rounds were coming his way, and although he didn’t turn around to see it, he heard them hit <mage> to his right. Deebo opened up on the first target he saw, and fired a burst of rounds at an unprepared security guard, dropping him to the floor.
At the same time Deebo’s targets body hit the floor, he saw out of the corner of his eye Nelson “Loche” Laramiedrop down from the roof in a repelling rig and swing on to the glass littered balcony. Nelson “Loche” Laramie hit the ground, and quickly was on his feet and firing off to his side. Judging by how quickly he changed direction and fired at the other side of the balcony, Deebo figured that he hit whatever he was shooting at. Dazzled by the speed and accuracy at which Nelson “Loche” Laramie worked, Deebo forgot that he was standing in an open doorway; at least until a wall of lead came flying his way and lodged itself in the wall behind him. Before he had time to react, a second barrage caught Deebo in the chest, and embedded itself in his armor. As Deebo turned to face the source of the attack, he heard the familiar sound of Nelson “Loche” Laramie weapons again, and saw his soon to be target go down. Deebo spun around to acquire another target, but was halted by a shock-wave and blast from the other end of the hallway. Deebo backed out of the doorway, and saw two bodies dart towards the stairwell to the roof on the opposite end of the hall. A flash from where they ran out of told Deebo that someone was providing covering fire for the moving pair. ended up catching the rounds in the chest, and Deebo watched him fly back and hit the ground. Before Deebo could return fire, he ended up eating some of the rounds also.
Still on his feet, Deebo quickly thought about sending a grenade down the hall, but didn’t want to frag their target, or more importantly his head, to pieces. Without time to find cover, Deebo leveled his AK and tried to take out the threat down the hall. He was positive that he hit his target with the barrage of lead he fired, but it wasn’t enough to stop the guard from returning fire. Deebo realized that he must of done enough damage to mess up the bodyguards aim because he felt the next wave of rounds whiz past his head. With a praise of thanks on his lips, Deebo open fired again, and this time heard a grunt and cry from the other end of the hall. With his weapon still readied, Deebo advanced down the the hall to the source of the gunfire. As he cautiously moved forward, he radioed up to Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan to warn him about the pair coming his way. The hacker didn’t respond though. Little did Deebo know, Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan was busy trying to take control of the helicopter. At his comrads silence, Deebo picked up his pace and charged for the open stairwell door.
Deebo didn’t even consider the possibility that he was chasing the wrong target. Luckily, <streetsam> had the other look-a-like cornered. Or so he thought. As Nelson “Loche” Laramie advanced to the room the target was in, he heard the sound of breaking glass, and caught a glimpse of two people falling off of the penthouse floor and plummeting to the streets below. Doing a double take, Nelson “Loche” Laramie realized that the two bodies weren’t falling, they were gliding, wearing some sort of flying squirrel like flight suit with build in wings. Not knowing what else to do, Nelson “Loche” Laramie leveled his weapon and fired a burst at the first flying target. Unable to react, the rounds caught the target, leaving holes in him and more importantly, his flight suit. The first flying guy went spiraling out of control and crashed in to the side of the building. Nelson “Loche” Laramie took aim for his second shot, and connected with the second flying target. Seeing that the target didn’t loose control after being shot, but instead was quickly falling out of range for a another set of rounds, Nelson “Loche” Laramie leaped from the balcony and enter a controlled free-fall after his target. With only twelve stories before impact, he only had a few seconds before he had to pull the cord on his base jumping parachute. As he floated down at a controlled descent, he saw that the person he was pursuing didn’t have the same kind of control… in fact, he had no control. Nelson “Loche” Laramie could only watch as the person splattered in to the pavement, head first.
Deebo advanced to the stairwell door, and as he peered around the corner with his weapon ready he didn’t see a waiting bodyguard like he expected. What he did see caught him totally by surprise. Rather than seeing the target exfiltrate to the roof and the helicopter like he expected, he saw a repel line dangling from the railing of the staircase that held the target and his security guard. With that charming toothy grin, Deebo activated the blade in his cyber arm and it came popping out with an audible ”shink.” At the noise, the guard looked up with horror in his eyes as he realized what was about to happen. Before he had time to react, Deebo sliced through the repel line like butter, and watched the two climbers drop 11 stories and land with a loud thud. Afterwords, a thought crossed his mind which stole the grin right out of his mouth. Hoping that target didn’t land on his head, he spun around to head back to the penthouse for his downed mage companion.
As Deebo entered back in to the hallway he saw one of the security guards aiming an automatic weapon at the unconscious <mage> on the ground. With the speed and reaction that can only come from wired reflexes, Deebo raised his weapon and put a burst in to the guards chest. It was enough to get his attention, but not enough to eliminate the threat. The security guard returned fire, and forced Deebo to take cover in the blown open section of the wall to his right. Deebo angled around the corner and shot at the guard as he moved to the elevator and punched the down button. Before the elevator could arrive though, Deebo landed another round of shots in the guards chest. He collapsed in a heap. Deebo advanced on the guards position with his weapon raised, and peered around the blown open door way to survey the room and make sure there were no more threats around. Taking in the carnage, there was blood, bodies, empty shell casings, glass, and bullet holes every where. None of the bodies on the floor stirred. Knowing that in a matter of minutes the place would be crawling with more security personnel, police, or worse; Deebo picked up V’Zier Maurid with his cyber arm and gripped the top rail of his rifle with the other. He moved for the stair well where he saw Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan collecting a microdrone and running down the steps. As the two of them shuffled down the stairs, Deebo called out “where the frag have you been?”. Deebo didn’t catch all of the story, but he heard something about a cyberzombie, and more importantly that the team wouldn’t be able to use the helicopter.
When they got to the bottom of the steps, Deebo checked the two bodies in a pile on the floor. The one that he thought was their target ended up being the decoy, as evident by the nanopaste mixed in with blood that was oozing off his face and on to the floor. The two runners and the shoulder mounted mage made their way out of the stairwell and back on to the streets through a fire exit. Deebo b-lined for his Mercury Comet parked in the parking lot, and hoped that no one would notice the rifle or the passed out mage in his arms. Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan went a different direction, back to his own vehicle Deebo assumed, and hopefully to pick up the street samurai. Plans always had a way of going sour, no matter how good they sounded.
When the crew met back up that afternoon at their safehouse, Deebo was relieved to see <streetsam> still breathing, but was disappointed when he threw the clear plastic bag of what was left of the targets brain and headware on the kitchen table. Apparently Nelson “Loche” Laramie needed a spoon to scoop up what was left of their target after he hit the pavement from his free-fall. It’s amazing how much faster you plummet and how much harder you hit the ground when you’re weighed down by cyber. Before the team could assess what they had in front of them, Deebo’s comlink lit up with a call from Duece. Apparently their little fiasco made the trid news, and Duece wanted to find out what happened. When Deebo relayed the story, and more importantly what they were able to recover, Duece gave them the rendezvous location for dropping off what they had. The meet was supposed to be in a couple of hours at a local bar. Deus told them that they would be meeting their employers, emphasis on the plural, in person. With the meet time so soon, the team had little time to prepare. V’Zier Maurid was still in and out of consciousness, and Jack ‘’Cooper" Manhattan was anxious to go to ground and wait for the media coverage to blow over. Not wanting to go to the meet, possibly out of fear of reprisal from the Johnson for such a messy job, it was up to Deebo and Nelson “Loche” Laramie to report in and collect their earnings. It wasn’t like Deebo to be so willing to walk in to a situation blindly, but he felt that at least he would have Nelson “Loche” Laramie with him if things got hairy. Plus, the payout was going to be good, and he really needed the money.
When he walked in the bar, the bartender signaled to one of the booths near the back wall. Nelson “Loche” Laramie took a position at the bar and ordered a drink. As Deebo walked to the back booth, his senses were assaulted by the smell of patchouli, hemp, and B.O.. The Johnsons, three of them actually, wore headbands to keep their matted nappy hair back, and matching t-shirts with the “Green War” logo; a radical group of popular eco-terrorists. Deebo threw the baggie of gray matter and random headware parts on the table, and told the Johnsons that’s their data. The leader of the group, a young norm with bloodshot eyes and a scraggy beard, fished through the goo in the baggie and pulled out some bits. He pulled out some sort of chip reader from somewhere under the table, and slotted one of the bits in to it. A few seconds later, he smiled, and slid a certified credstick across the table. Underneath the credstick were a few info and recruitment pamphlets for their “Green War” organization. With a toothy grin, Deebo said “I may be an Ork, but I don’t think I’m green enough for youz guys. But if you evah need a job done, you know who to call.” With that, Deebo pocketed the credstick and headed out the bar, tapping Nelson “Loche” Laramie on the shoulder as he passed him.

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