Penumbra

The Seventh Job

“Got a job for you.”

The Johnson wanted to speak with Bach, Toro, and Mort somewhat specifically and Bach wondered what was going on. He hated being a puppet and wanted to know more about the Johnson’s plans and motivations, but asking someone so secretive to openly share their schemes never really works in anyone’s favor. Bach wanted to meet in a comic book shop; yet another unvisited location and, therefore, safe.

Naturally the Johnson was already at the shop, looking somewhat out of place and significantly less knowledgeable about the going’s-on of teenagers. Bach smiled and put that knowledge in the back of his mind. The three of them walked up and waited by the Johnson, all of them looking imposing and somewhat odd in the store, no doubt drawing the eyes of impressionable kids. Toro, fortunately, didn’t seem to angry at Bach for exposing children to the ostentation of Shadowrunning, even if they weren’t advertising their profession, it hung on Bach like a shroud. They all went into a private room to talk.

“All right, so, I’m going to just lay my cards out on the table. I work for an organization dedicated to disrupting a cult by the name of Ordo Retinae Spinae, or ORS, and we’ve hit a wall. You all helped us quite a bit gathering equipment and information, but now we aren’t sure what to do, as we just don’t know enough.” The Johnson paused and Mort and Toro waited apprehensively, the new information filtering through their minds. Bach remained silent and looked away, the Johnson looking at him with a moment of anticipation before he continued on.

“You all worked for the organization before, the Johnson that hired you to deliver a box and assassinate that young man works for their organization. Our problem is that we need more information, but we aren’t sure what exactly we can do. I’m wondering what your thoughts are.” The three shadowrunners stood silently for a moment, processing. Toro, unsurprisingly, was the first to break the silence.

“So… that Johnson is probably mad at us?” Bach closed his eyes with practiced patience. “Yes Toro. That Johnson wants us dead.” Toro nodded, looking worried. “Oh.”

“Well, what if we go back to their headquarters? Those offices we attacked before?” Said Mort, the Johnson nodding in agreement. “Yes, those were our thoughts as well. The CEO should be there and perhaps we can get information out of him.”

“The security on their offices would be increased after our last visit,” said Bach, speaking quietly and hoping no one asks him any questions. Toro chuckled.

“Well, that won’t be a problem, the guards there were pretty terrible before. I’m sure we’d be fine.” While they spoke, the Johnson pulled up a schematic of the building and was preparing to show the layout of the offices and entry points and other such things when Bach decided to make his argument.

“We should get the Johnson.” It wasn’t a very persuasive argument. Toro and Mort both immediately disagreed, talking about the CEO being more knowledgeable or something that Bach didn’t really care about. He waited for a moment while they protested.

“So, you believe that if we make a surprise attack against the CEO, the Johnson won’t lever his formidable contacts and lists of wetwork agents against us? We’ll have to deal with the Johnson at some point. Now is better than later, when he’s prepared to eliminate us.” Everyone stood silently, processing the thought of a Johnson actively interested in their demise. It wasn’t long before they all agreed to kidnap the Johnson. Since interrogation was part of the plan, Mort called up Jim the Elf, since he is known for his ability to talk people into secrets best kept quiet.

The Johnson lived in a high-class apartment complex on the sixth floor, the entire floor purchased by the company and being rented out to an indeterminate number of workers. They all agreed on a plan and set to work. Bach went to Freegrass to hire a few shadowrunners to monitor the building for anyone trying to leave through the windows, but all Freegrass got was a small gang of skaterkids. Bach shrugged and hired them for a small amount, giving the a few handguns with blanks. It was then that he realized he had made a grave mistake.

“Hey Toro? Yeah, got some bad news. I hired some kids and gave them firearms.” A dial tone answered his statement and Bach figured Toro was on his way to the garage to eviscerate him for handing Kids firearms. Still, all the things for which Toro would kill him, this was hardly the worst. After a few minutes, Bach called again and Toro picked up.

“So, Bach. Where are you?” Toro said super suspiciously. “Look, Toro, I know you want to tear my arms off, but these were the only contacts I found at such short notice, and I’m not happy about it,” lies, “but this is where we are. They have stun rounds so they won’t hurt each other and I expect you to take the firearms back after the job, so…” Toro sighed and said fine. Bach figured that was the worst thing he’d have to deal with. He was wrong.

It was early in the morning, Toro’s chameleon suit was finished (stealthed infiltration integral to getting a giant and strange looking Orc into a high-class apartment building), and Bach and Jim waltzed into the building with Mort’s steel lynx at their side. Jim convinced the security guard with some fast speaking that the lynx and Bach were his body guards. Before long they were in the elevator and riding up to the sixth floor, Bach feeling jittery. Just a few hours ago, sleep deprivation started to hit him, so he popped a Long Haul into his system, convinced that in four days when the drug wore off he’d already be dead. Now, the drug was making him ready to act, his fingers wrapping around the Ares Predator grip like an addictive vice.

The elevator opened right as Toro silently slid down a rope dangling down the atrium, stepping onto the floor and looking around at the dimly lit doors, his body fading out of existence from the chameleon suit. Bach no longer wanted to wait, so he hacked into the lights and flipped all the lights in the floor on, saying to Mort via livestream “What do we see Mort?”

Outside the floor at the windows, Mort had positioned spy drones looking in and with all the lights on, he told Bach there were guards in a room to their right, the Johnson across the hall, and other employees in the rooms behind them to their left. Bach yelled at Toro to get the Johnson while the lynx rolled up to the wall, swiveling its gun towards the room filled with guards. Gunfire overtook the hallway as its mini-gun launched into rotation, bullet shells filling the hallway it guarded as it ripped through the wall and sprayed the room blindly with fire. Bach took cover behind a railing to the atrium; not the safest place, but better than nothing. Soon, a few guards ran out of the room, covering their heads and firing at Toro as Toro kicked down the Johnson’s door. Bach responded in kind, firing bullets with a maniacal scream Jim took as the first stage of insanity. However, Jim also turned around and provided covering fire for Toro.

“Damnit, Bach, there’s some hidden door and its locked!” Toro said after about twenty seconds. Bach sat back and launched himself into the matrix, finding the maglock and smiling as he started to decode it. It was significantly more difficult than a normal lock, but nothing he couldn’t handle. He was almost done when pain shot across his mind, eyes, and life seemed to slip away. The Matrix was pulled away from him and everything went dark.

Jim shoved an adrenaline shot into Bach’s heart after patching up some of his exit wounds and Bach woke up, looking around in confusion. His hand reached over and pushed in his intestine, bullet holes scattered across his chest, stomach and arm. Jim helped him stand and brought him to the stairs, but Bach couldn’t see anything but his own blood, delirious from pain and disorientation. Last he knew, he was in the Matrix. Gunfire filled his ears as he fired blindly to the side, mumbling about police and how they all had to leave. Bach didn’t remember how he got to Mort’s van, but he did. So did Toro and the Johnson.

Bach sat back, holding his guts in and bleeding like sweat, his eyes rolling in his head as life started to barely come back into focus. He wondered how long it would last.

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