“Got a job for you”
Bach hated getting texts like this. Even after tracing the message back no real information would be garnered and the idea that fixers can simply contact him without notice or explanation unnerved him. Granted, that was what a fixer was for.
The apartment building arranged by the mysterious fixer was grungy, had poor lighting and some suspicious materials piled in corners and in the cracks on stairs; perfect. Bach saw three men waiting outside the door he was headed towards. One looked outrageous, like a kangaroo; long arms and legs with knees bent the other way, a tail, and a possible predisposition for hopping. Bach couldn’t be sure. The other two were normal, one in a business suit and another in an armor jacket like his own. Shadowrunners, always recognizable, Bach thought. The kangaroo introduced himself as Toro, suit as Jim, and jacket as Mort. Bach nodded, withholding his name for the moment. Jim knocked on the door and a muffled “come on in!” came through.
Inside the apartment, Bach got the impression that he had walked into a college dorm. Food littered the tables, disorder ruled the surroundings, and their ‘fixer’ was a hippie. It wasn’t quite the long, dirty braided hair or the home spun mismatched color sweater he wore, or the old spoiled food on his table, or even the scent of lavender candles; it was all of it that made this man look one hundred years out of time. “Hey guys! Oh, this is great, really, really great. So, like, I’m Freegrass Rainbowbird, and it’s super great that you guys are here! Want some organic drinks or something man? I’ve got this tea that’ll really calm the nerves and, like, pacify and stuff. It’s really great!” Bach immediately began a search for Freegrass on the web. He also considered asking him to be quiet.
“So, you have a job for us?” Jim was a soft-spoken elf who immediately came off as someone you wanted to know. Although he might have been quiet, everyone in the room heard him and Freegrass responded immediately. “Yeah, totally! It’s really quite simple, I’ve got an arrangement with this Johnson if you want man. You sure you don’t want some tea?” The ‘meeting’ went downhill from there. Bach wondered about this Freegrass person as little could be found on him, and as the meeting went on he noticed a significantly more expensive comlink than anyone would have anticipated given Freegrass’ sparse living accommodations. But he arranged a meeting with the Johnson, and every Shadowrunner needs money.
Johnson’s all look the same, Bach thought. And they did. Sleek black suits, dark sunglasses, cool demeanor, an unmarked black car and loads of weapons hidden for their protection characterized the Johnson standing in front of the team. Most smoked; this one didn’t. Bach did.
“It’s a simple B and E job. There’s a storage container we need you to move into the Renraku building, down near one of the fusion reactors. Our man, a gentleman we call the Elder, picks it up at 9am, you leave with money.” The team looked at the Johnson blankly. Most Shadowrunners weren’t really all that good at negotiations, and this Johnson was abnormally concise. Inwardly, each member was wondering what needed to be smuggled to a fusion reactor in the Renraku building. “Well?”
“Yes, that sounds easy enough, but we have a few questions. Like about the payout…” Jim the charismatic elf started in and Bach decided to start looking up Renraku floor plans, maintenance schedules, and dummy RFID numbers. Trivialities like money meant little to Bach so long as he got paid and found out more about who he was working for. And something told him this job would be illuminating.
Some Shadowrunners like adventure, some like money, and some like killing. What Bach liked was planning. He spent a large portion of the evening planning, thinking, and researching. Not just their marked building, but also the Johnson. Something seemed off, so he put in a bit of time trying to figure it out. As with most corporations, it led to a dead end and ambiguous names, but it was worth a try. Bach found something beautiful, almost musical, in the creation of a flawless plan. Arranging transportation, downloading schematics and rosters, timing entrances and exits, preparing cover stories; everything came together in a harmonious way he found exhilarating. Early in the morning, Bach finally slept, his mind full of escape routes and false names and excitement.
Getting in was simple; some fake uniforms, an official sounding title, the name of one of the workers, and a strong voice can get anyone into any building. The three of them loaded the cargo onto a lift and had Mort’s droid tow it into the building, apprehension at being caught palpable but not overwhelming. Jim was a good con artist. They were getting pretty far when a voice from behind said “Can I help you?” Immediately, Bach turned around, his eyes lining up shots to vital organs in case of an emergency.
“Oh hey! Joe right? Remember, we met at the work party, what, three months ago?” Bach walked up to the security guard and slapped him on the shoulder cordially, his words reinforcing the familiarity of the gesture. Oddly enough, Joe bought it. “Really? Man, I’m sorry, I don’t really remember.”
“Wow! Really? Man, I told this funny joke about a troll and an elf, you know the one where they go to get a haircut?” Joe chuckled, not remembering the joke at all but wanting to fit in. Jim took the opportunity to walk up and try to push things along.
“Hate to break up the reunion, but we need to be at the fusion core soon. We were supposed to be penciled in for now.” Joe nodded at Jim and wrote them into the schedule, still looking a little confused but nodding all the while. Bach looked around and saw Toro was missing and he closed his eyes a little. “Sorry, I still can’t remember your name?” Joe sounded embarrassed and Bach couldn’t help but smile.
“Dan Harmon.” Joe nodded. “Of course, Dan Harmon. All right! Good to see you again man!” As the security guard walked away shaking his head, Bach called up Toro.
“Oh good, here’s my boss. Boss, talk to this man.” Bach heard a man say “You’re with the maintenance crew?” After a quick explanation, which involved several disparaging comments against Toro’s character, the security guard loaded up a map for Toro showing him exactly where to go. Just before Bach cut the line, he heard Toro say “Wow! You can do that! God damn, I never knew that was possible!”
It was four minutes to nine and the door to the reactor was locked shut. Everyone stood around, wondering where their contact was. Mort’s drone hovered ominously, steady even against his inclination to start bombing everything in sight. “Maybe we should just set off a bomb as a signal?” Mort asked through the drone. Jim shook his head and denied Mort his fun for the third time. As they waited, Bach looked over and saw a locker door ajar, a small pool of blood dripping onto the floor below it. Cautiously, Bach walked over and opened it, a dead security guard crumbling to the floor. Immediately, everyone armed their weapons. “Bach, security door. Now.” Mort’s voice indicated that either the door was opening from hacking or explosives. If possible, Bach preferred the former. He opened it in a few seconds.
Inside the reactor was a grisly sight. Three security guards had their chests caved inwards, as though crushed by a great weight. One guard had been impaled on a beam in the upper catwalk, blood steadily dripping onto the ground. Two others had been tossed into guard rails, their skulls crushed like tin cans. “Is that… the Elder?” Jim asked pointing to a small old man away from the violence. He sat passively, meditating. Bach was keen to leave soon but after a few seconds of indecision, Bach’s alarm went off. It was nine.
The old man’s eyes opened and he went from sitting to walking towards them in a fluid motion. Bach’s eyes tracked his brain. No messing around with Mystics “You have my package?” The Shadowrunners parted to reveal the container and a smile stretched across the Elder’s face. “Good. Now, I suggest you leave. You don’t want to be here in three minutes.” He didn’t need to speak twice.
Even before the team had gotten back to the elevator, something felt wrong. Toro started to hear something strange and Mort’s drone picked up an odd feedback signal coming from the reactor. In a moment the world shook and part of the Renraku ceiling began to collapse. Bach almost tripped but maintained his balance somehow, wondering what was going on. The earthquake only lasted a minute but they all looked back on the closed reactor doors, wondering what they had given the old man.
At least the job was done.