Seattle Side Mission 23: On the Fly 2.0 – Part 4

Written by: Marius           Played on: 15 Feb 2014
PREVIOUS: Side Mission 23 – On the Fly 2.0 – Part 3
NEXT: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 1

Marius hits the asphalt on the other side of the fence hard, trying to roll like he did on the ice to absorb the impact, but this time he’s seeing stars. The blaring of a horn and squealing of rubber snap him back to attention and he leaps to his feet just in time to back-peddle out of a car’s path. Jackie is already up and grabbing Marius’ arm to drag him across the roadway.

Racing down the neighboring streets, a small contingent of drones are racing after them, most of them airborne but also including a few wheeled vehicles that have raced out of the exits and are gaining fast. At the very least, Marius notes they’re only chasing them, none of them seem to have been sent ahead to cut off their escape, either because the rigger is inept or perhaps he’s too busy to focus on the situation at the moment. Unfortunately, meat security is probably not far behind them and Lone Star just beyond that.

“We are going to have to talk about this bull, Jackie. We have to do something to protect that man’s family. Maybe take it back to “Terminator” Bilotkiy like Montana wanted to do. We’ll take a vote on it once we have it.” Marius sighs, looking out the window at the scenery. The truck they rented is blasting down the I-5 towards the address.

“Bull drek, chum. You guys were hired for a job. What happens besides that ain’t your concern. You can’t let that big dumb conscience get in your way. As a Shadowrunner, it’ll get you killed. You got the makings of some good stuff, but you have to let that all go if you want to be great. Like me.” There’s no hint of sympathy in Jackie’s voice.

“That’s not how we roll, Jack. We don’t let innocents suffer for our actions.” Marius’ sense are sharpening as he makes a mental effort to push his throbbing head to the background. The tension in the air is thick enough to strangle with.

“And I said, bull drek, chum. This ain’t a decision that’s up to vote. We are getting that bull. We are selling it. You’ll get your cut. We’ll go on with our lives. Anyone who gets in our way gets dealt with. Its all about you and me, mate. Seeing our ass through this.” Jackie’s not quite yelling, but clearly agitated. “Anyone gets in the way of that. Anyone. They’re dead.”

Chekhov and Jade turn back down the hall they came in through. No one is shooting at them, finally, but the black smoke from the fire is so thick they can’t see and both have to lower themselves to the ground to avoid choking and passing out. The heat has been steadily rising and, while there aren’t open flames in this hallway yet, its clear the way they came in is blocked by the fire. Sprinklers are going off everywhere, trying unsuccessfully to contain the inferno.

The heat and fire is interfering with wireless signals, but they can barely make out a crackling message from Marius over their commlinks. “Hey guys, we finally got out of the park, thanks for shutting those drones down. There were a few complications, but I think we’re all set. See you back at the rendezvous.”

“We better get out quick if we don’t want to get toasty, bear-man.” Jade tells Chekhov, who lets out a bemoaning growl in reply.

“Is it so hard for you to believe they can’t? You think these people are nice at heart? Are they just playing the role of morally corrupt criminals for fun? You need to face reality. Your own brother almost got you killed once due to pure lack of concern. What do you think the promise of money would do? How much do you think his price is before he would flip?” Jackie spat at the elf next to him. “You don’t think I know, Mercer? I know all about you. I know everything about you. I know you better than you know yourself. I know who you truly are. If you weren’t such a bleeding heart, pacifist, you would make a great runner, chum.”

Marius’ fists coil as his head pounds and his vision goes a little fuzzy. His injuries, combined with the building adrenaline, are starting to get to him but he focuses on Jackie’s face as the man disses on him and his team. “You might be right Jackie, I am slow on the trigger. But, when motivated properly, I can be quite deadly.”

Jackie’s eyes narrow just before Marius acts. “Don’t do this to us, Marius. I’m the only one you can trust.” The quick chop to the man’s throat shuts him up and, acting quickly, Marius throws open the door, unbuckles Jackie and dumps him unceremoniously out of the truck as it speeds down the highway at high speed. The truck swerves only momentarily before he is able to take control and continues down the road, trying to steady his breathing.

Marius cranes his neck around, trying to get an eye on Jackie’s body in the side view mirror almost a mile back now. “When the others ask, ‘Where is Jackie?’ I am going to say, ‘He had to hit the road.’ Classic…” The elf laughs.

The weight of the truck shifts and rattles along the poorly kept section of I-5 a dozen miles north of Tir Tairngire. Marius briefly wonders if he’ll ever end up in that elven land as the truck shudders sharply. In surprise, Marius looks over at Jackie, half crouched in the passenger seat next to him. “Fucking. Hilarious.” The back of Marius’ head cracks off the driver side window as he’s slammed back into it, bringing white stars to even his cybernetic vision. The truck swerves across two lanes before Jackie grabs hold of the steering wheel. “I told you not to do that!” Marius tries to fight him off, but in his dazed state the second blow of his head forward against the window pillar is all it takes. The elf blacks out while Jackie assumes control of the vehicle.

Marius jerks awake to the sharp sound of glass hitting a table. His arms jerk up reflexively towards a defensive position as the drone of noise hits him all at once. Breathing sharp and fast, he looks around the inside of the Critical Glitch. Jackie is just sitting down across from him, a pint full of the beer of the week is sitting in front of Marius invitingly. The man looks mildly irritated, but also much more amused than he did before.

“You’ll be happy to know we made our score and the bull is off to a private collector. We weren’t able to net as much profit as I would have liked, given that Bilotkiy is out there looking for his precious bull. I’ve set a sizable portion off to the side for some future expenditures, but the rest has been transferred into you and your friends’ accounts.”

“Jack-…” Marius starts.

“Shut the fuck up, Mercer. I’m disappointed, but we’ll work on it. Like I said, I’m the only one you can trust.” Jackie looks comfortable, confident and smug across the table from Marius.

“Bullshit. You and I are done.”

Jackie laughs a vicious laugh, “It takes a strong man to deny what is right in front of him. Don’t be too hard on yourself though, you can still enjoy your beer. Lucky you.”

That line sounds familiar

“Где этот мудак? Marius!” Chekhov’s thick Russian accent draws Marius’ attention as the ork stamps up to the table. “Что ебать? You said your contact vas good. Ve get paid dis sheet though! Seven thousand nuyen? You promise double! Я должен отрезать тебе яйца и кормить их в козла.”

Marius’ gaze snaps back across the table to the booth where Jackie had been sitting as Jade falls heavily into the seat and glowers across the table at him. “Seriously, I almost got roasted alive. Smell me! I smell like a BBQ pit… only without any good meat! You know how I like meat… yeah… meat… I forgot where I was going with this…”

“Vat is dealio, свинья ублюдок?” Chekhov scoots into the booth next to Marius without asking, forcing the elf to slide over.

“I gotta go.” Marius says, after a long pause, and leaves.

Marius is flipping channels, stopping on a NewsNet broadcast as they begin their top story for the evening.

“A shooting at a corporate park skating rink in Salish-Shidhe Council territory took the lives of local business owner Mike Jackson as well as seven of his employees and an unspecified number of Security’R’Us employees working the park. Over two dozen bystanders were injured in the shoot out, ranging from minor to critical wounds. Officials declined to comment on the seemingly unrelated fire that torched the Security’R’Us headquarters and part of a shopping mall that hampered reinforcement and response efforts, citing an ongoing investigation into the matter.

Details are sparse, but the shooter is said to have acted alone and identified as an elf, though a positive identification has not been released. The shooter is said to have access to military style assault weapons, sparking renewed debate in the ongoing firearms control legislation and employed explosives of some type. Officials state that they believe he was likely a deranged loner, possibly a survivalist or end of the world theorist. While he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous, they do not believe it to be the work of a larger terrorist or criminal offensive.”

The young, new news anchor promises they will continue following the story closely as new information develops. An in depth look at the attack, interviews with witnesses and victims and investigation into current security measures is scheduled as a feature story later in the week.

Marius’ beer is warm in his hand when he finally turns off the trid and leaves the room.

I’ve been hinting at and building to this ending with Marius for a long time, though even the player was surprised at the turn of events. Even Dr. Strughold once warned him, and Detrius confirmed, that those from his genetics program often developed mental conditions later in life. Even his adventures into Russia featured events that might have been hallucinated. There were also a number of references directly in the run, many that might be chocked up to easy mistakes, but were definitely intentional. Jackie often suffered the same injuries Marius did and made use of the exact same weapons that Marius used.

Prior to the start of the game, I spoke with Jade and Chekhov about intentionally not interacting with Jackie. They picked up on the purpose pretty quickly, hence the Fight Club jokes at the beginning of the session and Jackie’s name as a reference to Jack from the movie that they supplied. I look forward to playing with Marius’ psychosis further in future runs.

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 23 – On the Fly 2.0 – Part 3
NEXT: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 1

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