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    by: Edward Nickelson

    Adrian didn't have much time. The alarm had been sounded, not by him, but he doubted the building's security would care about that when they found him clutching this data module. He could hear the stomping polythene jack boots as well as the tapping of arachnid like legs of a KLM series guardian; the rain like tintinnabulation belied the fact that it weighed two tons and was probably sporting more weapons than your average third world government could marshal.

    Luckily he was still connected to the building's systems and could tell where all the security forces were by their IFF's. Unfortunately they knew their business and were not depending on the system to inform them. Their search pattern had surrounded him and the conference room where he had hard-plugged into the system. He had only one escape route left. He had been hoping to make a stealthy escape though. Sure you don't keep your reputation as the world's greatest adventurer/hacker by going unnoticed, but he considered it a breach of the spy work ethic to make the sort of escape he was about to make.

    As building security poured into the room from the sides, shouting at him to give up, taking positions behind tables and around walls, rolling gas grenades, and audio/visual shock grenades, and wifi static grenades. Possibly some incendiary and shrapnel grenades if this data module had on it what Adrian suspected it did. The KLM-48 tip-tapped its bulk through the double doors behind the soldiers and started spinning its chain gaussrifles up to firing speed.

    Time slowed to Adrian as all this happened and with his left arm he raised his signature weapon, an HK assault gyrojet launcher with a double edged tanto welded into it like a bayonet with an arm brace so both the gun or short sword can be effectively wielded one handed. He levelled his weapon not at his attackers but at the window behind him and dumb fired three rounds turning the glass instantly white with micro fractures spidering out from the three holes he made. At the same time with his right hand he threw the neodymium data core at the window and followed right after it in a dive worthy of an olympic swimmer.

    The glass sparkled around him like the stars he had seen in old photos. There was a roar behind him as the grenades erupted.Shooting stars made of gauss pellets flew by overhead, the security guards no doubt, the KLM wouldn't waste ammo like that. He fell thirty stories in that serene scene, falling was safe. Once the falling ended it either meant he hit something and died, or he would be an airborne target for the archology's AA grid to take out. Ultimately dodging AA barrages sounded easier than dodging the earth so he activated his jetpack and surged forward grabbing the datacore then diving into the old city that surrounded the archology. With any luck the AA batteries are programmed not to aim down into the impoverished masses outside their walls.

    Adrian arrived at the buyers airship around 0100. She was there wearing a gossamer black dress that left just enough to the imagination to let his imagination run wild, and he knew then that she was going to betray him. Alexa Petrov, Chief of Corporate Relations for the Rus Corp. the de facto owners of the Russland-Ukrainian empire and most of the northeastern Eurasian continent ever since the mobs imploded a decade ago.

    "Adrian darling, I see you survived as usual." She said, Russian accent rolling off her tongue beautifully. "When the news reported an incident at the Musashi-Bergmann Archology I started to worry, I forgot you liked to do things rough and messy sometimes, but you always get the job done," and she handed him a martini. "You did get the datacore, yes?"

    "Of course, but first lets talk about the job. Someone else set off the alarm, what are the odds of two thieves in one night?" Adrian said, putting down his martini without drinking it.

    "Very low, are you sure you're not slipping?" and she came right up to him and straightened his flight coat before looking him in the eye through her long lashes.

    "No, my technique is as good as ever," he said, "which is why I have to wonder. You're the only one who knew I was going tonight. So was I just the distraction for your own team, an expendable loss? Was this revenge for when I first met you and stole your plans for the Hieronymus Machine? Or was it just about the money? You have been trying to sell M-B new security measures haven't you, maybe you had to prove to them they needed it."

    Alexa backed away from him pouting and putting on the hurt eyes of a doe, "Actually it was you we wanted. Boys." Suddenly Adrian was grabbed from behind, one strong pair of arms latched onto his left arm and immobilised the weapon on it and the other gave him a bear hug from the right.

    "You and all the information you have acquired in your career. The theft was just to bring you here. We needed you to steal something within your specialisation of 'Information Retrieval' but something physical so you would have to come in person. A 10 hellabyte datacore, more then even your connection speed could transfer."

    Adrian did not let her continue to the part about how they would torture and kill him for what he knew, he had heard it all before. Instead he curled his body in his captors' arms and shot his right knee over his left shoulder breaking one handler's nose followed by shooting the same leg straight down breaking the other man's leg. He then leapt into a flying round kick to the left mans temple crumpling him instantly, landed and gave a stern look to the man on his right who decided to stay down and nurse his tibia.

    Then he raised the razor tip of his gyrojet gun/sword to Alexa's throat and said, "I have eight usb crystal jacks at the base of my skull to plug in any specialised knowledge and expertise I need on the job but four of those jacks are always full. The first two are a high band transmitter for large data transfer to local systems and a low band for long distance calls. The third is a top of the line graphic interface, the same kind rich kids use to play Transcendent Life. Since you're mostly just a sales person I wont bore you with why that's useful in my line of work."

    "The fourth chip though, the last one which I always keep jacked into my skull and never ever for the life of me take out; not to upgrade or sleep or replace with some other vitally needed skill, is a physio-reflex skill chip and on that chip is a label that reads, 'Bruce FUCKING Lee' and the 'fucking' is spelled with all caps." Alexa swallowed involuntarily and Adrian's tanto drew a single drop of blood from her porcelain throat. "Remember that when you file your report. ALL CAPS."

    "Now here is your datacore, I expect my pay to be wired to my account by the morning. Pleasure doing business with you and please come again," Adrian Perez, world famous Adventurer/Hacker, said as he walked to the door. "Oh and I programmed your ship to self destruct 60 seconds after I leave."

    "Wait," Alexa said, "How did you know I would betray you? What gave it away?"

    "Just something my mother always told me."

    She smirked, "And what is that?"

    "Never trust a woman."

    "Your mother had a sense of irony."

    "I would tell you what she said about men but we're mixed company." He grinned at her, "Now I suggest you get to an escape pack. Until next time." Then he leapt out of the airship. A minute later he felt the shockwave of the ship exploding followed by the reverse shock of its vacuum bags rupturing and filling.

    Setbacks aside it had been a good evening but something she said had him bothered. If they were after him then they had no reason to tip off the security at the archology. There was a third player in this game. This was going to be a long night.
    And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, And I looked and behold: a pale horse. And his name, that sat on him, was Death. And Hell followed with him.

  • #2
    Re: ALL CAPS

    A tip of the hat to the 1960s with the gyrojet gun and some really lovely Shadowrun stylistic choices.
    "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."