|From:||Alan Takayama alan_takayama@*******.com|
|Subject:||Bellevue Rain - Complete|
|Date:||Mon, 07 Feb 2000 11:55:06 EST|
the complete version of Bellevue Rain, parts 1 through to 5. I hope you like
Stepping outside, he was once again surprised to see that it was raining.
Standing quietly on the steps to his apartment, the short, fair-skinned man
stretched out an upturned palm, as if to double check the sensation of cold
trickling down the back of his neck.
It was the natural reflex of one who had been born and lived most of his
life in a place that did not rain frequently. Or, at least, not nearly so
frequently as in the damp mass of concrete and steel that was the gloomy
Seattle Megaplex. No matter how many times he stepped outside of his
apartment and felt the rain on his face and shoulders, the seemingly
constant drizzle continued to surprise him.
He shrugged, and resisted the urge to return to the warm interior of his
stylish apartment. Tonight was business, and business couldn’t be ignored.
Even if it meant getting wet or dirty.
Walking quickly and unshielded from the rain, the young man liked to think
that he was melting into the crowd, becoming invisible. He smiled a little
self-assured smile as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. The truth was,
his physical features were a fair way from being unnoticeable. Men and women
both admired the style and cut of his fashionable clothing, and his facial
features were distinctive in their dark, stormy characteristics. In his line
of business, this was sometimes a hindrance. But, the man knew, it was
something that he would never give up or trade for the world. Pulling
creaking leather gloves on tightly, he ran his hands lightly through his
hair, styling it flat to the head. Cutting proudly through the night in
Bellevue and enjoying the sounds and smells of the people around him, the
young man continued to make his way to the "Mystic Touch" restaurant.
"The Mystic Touch", in his opinion, was a tiresome and presumptuous hangout
for arrogant and pretentious corporate twits. The popular restaurant claimed
an "authentic" magical theme: hermetic designs crisscrossed the ceiling,
walls, and carpet. Patrons were made to sit on chair less cushions at
decorated low-built tables, while fetishes of all stripes and descriptions
dangled from the ceiling above. Candles provided a gloomy atmosphere. It was
popular gossip and table conversation among the corpers that mystic runes
were carved onto the table's mahogany surface to enhance the taste of the
cuisine. The truth, the young man knew, was that the "runes" were simply the
work of a creative (yet ignorant) mundane artist, and the tables were not
mahogany at all, rather, very convincingly crafted synth-wood. The fetishes
themselves were probably just trinkets picked up at bargain prices. The
result of all the trouble in the end turned out to be the impression of an
eatery incorporating an overly elaborate mishmash of hermetic, shamanic, and
voudoun stereotypes with an oriental seating arrangement.
"Wiz," he commented loudly, mimicking a group of corporate teenagers who had
entered the establishment a moment after him, obviously for the first time.
The small group, intimidated by the man's direct green gaze and mocking
smile, sidled off in the opposite direction.
Making his way toward a table for two, the man removed his sodden coat and
sat cross legged on the cushion provided. It was time to wait for his
Leaning back slightly, he tried to wipe the scowl off his face. The street
outside was so much more enjoyable, and interesting in comparison to this
place. But At least it was solid, neutral ground. Just as the man new the
details of the faked "magical symbols", he also knew that unknown to most of
the patrons the manager and all the waiters wore shock gloves and packed
well concealed firearms loading gel rounds. Deeper in the restaurants
storerooms was concealed a well stocked armoury of flash grenades, narcoject
pistols, tasers and netgun weapons... even a military grade High Velocity
Assault Rifle for heavy "inconveniences". He smiled. It certainly paid for a
man in his business to do his homework.
But what was all the protection and precaution for? He knew the answer: A
bunch of suits. Most of them without any idea what people in less fortunate
circumstances had to go through simply to put soy-food on the table. That,
he supposed, was certainly deplorable but not despicable. That was simply
ignorance. He reserved his hatred for those who knew but did not care about
the plight of the lower classes. Which, unfortunately, described the basic
attitude of a lot of the executives of standing corporations.
Moving on to other thoughts, he wished he could have a private word with the
owner of the restaurant... shed a little light on his ignorance of the Sixth
World and Magic. So engrossed in his own personal musings was he that he did
not notice the woman who had appeared at his side.
At first he didn't think she was speaking to him. It had been such a long
time since he had heard his real name.
"Gabey!" She cried, "It IS you!" The informal version of his name
to his closest friends, so old and so infrequently heard to his own ears of
late, startled him and immediately forced him to appraise the woman
The first thing he noticed about her was her face: Shaped like an oval, it
was fair skinned and very pretty...her approximate age, mid-twenties. The
second thing he noticed was her hair. It was long and thick, reaching down
to her waist , and in the dim light of the restaurant’s candles it shone
with a golden sheen. There had only ever been one person who had hair like
that that he knew of, that beautiful.
"Rachel!" His surprise could not be hidden even if he tried, his voice held
a note of genuine exclamation as well as unmasked delight. His gloomy
expression was replaced with an open grin.
He stood, and received a back-breaking hug of trollish proportions. He did
his best to return it, laughing in the process.
"My god!" she stated, smiling widely, "How long has it been?"
"Too long," he returned. "2 years in fact. Last I heard, you were still in
"That didn’t last long. Problems with corporate funding for our research,
you know how it is-"
"Actually," he said, smiling, "I don't."
She chuckled. "God I've missed you. Let me tell you all about it."
He raised an eyebrow toward the group of corporate toads at the table Rachel
had presumably left. "What about your friends? They look a little
"Don't worry about them, I'm sure they can handle me being away from them
for a short time... okay, a long time. Let's sit down and catch up!"
Sitting down at the table, the man named "Gabey" couldn't resist the
childish urge to stick his tongue out at the table of wage-slaves, as if to
say "I have her now!". Their reaction was hysterical. He grinned while
Rachel burst out in uncontrollable laughter, and remembered that it had
always been this way between them. He had loved to make her laugh.
"You always did things like that," said Rachel, wiping the tears of mirth
from her eyes and echoing his thoughts.
He didn't know how long the two spent sitting there, talking about old
times, old places, and old people back home, waving away the waiters who
were anxious to take their orders. He only knew that it seemed like a few
minutes. It had been so long since they had last met.
"So, what have you been doing since you left Australia?" the beautiful young
woman asked, sipping from a glass of iced water. "The last I heard, You and
Peter had started your own business here in Seattle."
"We did," he replied. "It fell through and the two of us went our different
ways. It wasn't over anything big... we just decided we could make it on our
She peered at him curiously over the rim of her glass.
"What? You don’t believe me?" He asked playfully.
"No no, it's not that. I'm still just wondering what exactly your 'business'
"That's something that I'm not really good at explaining... not too
comfortable with it, either."
Failing to detect the slight strain of uneasiness in his voice, Rachel
continued to sail through dangerous waters.
"Why?" she said laughingly, "Are you a hit man? Oooh, danger and mystery
suit you, Gabey! I never would have thought it. Maybe you're a spy? Or maybe
even..." she leaned in close, blue eyes wide in anticipation for what she
had to say next. "...A Shadowrunner?"
She erupted into giggles, not noticing that the young man opposite her was
not joining in.
"Anyway, enough about me," he said forcefully, "What about you? How did the
She sobered up immediately. "Horribly," she admitted. "Not 2 months into
investigating the appearance of a new species of paranatural snake in the
Amazonian forests that manifests magical powers, and some eco-terrorist
burns down a village and factory near our research site. The company pulled
us out, said they couldn't risk losing some of their most valuable
employees." She rolled her eyes. "They were probably just worrying about
losing valuable equipment if the research site was attacked. We packed up
shop and moved back to Seattle."
"And what have you been doing since?" He was beginning to breathe easy, now
that they had shifted the topic of conversation.
She smiled. "Oh, this and that research project... I was always good at
science, you know. Renraku really does take care of it's scientists... for a
It was Gabe's turn to smile. "Always good at science" was an understatement.
"You always did used to understate your skills," he couldn't help saying.
"I'm not sure if I'm relieved or disappointed to see that hasn't changed."
She shifted her gaze to the table. It always did amaze him, those years ago,
how such a brilliant girl could be modest and shy.
Being particularly impulsive tonight, Gabe couldn't help himself.
"Why didn't we ever get together, Rachel?" he asked, and then suddenly it
felt as if the entire restaurant had become hushed.
She became visibly uncomfortable, and before she opened her mouth, a new
customer entered the restaurant.
"Shit." Gabe swore quietly.
"What? What is it?" Turning around, Rachel caught sight of an elegantly
dressed amerindian woman walking their way. "Oh," was all that she said.
"Listen, Rachel, I forgot I was supposed to meet someone here tonight. Could
we meet again? This time someplace a little more private."
"Yes, yes of course," she replied, smiling brightly once again. "Here’s my
card, call me tomorrow after nine."
She placed a small, white card of plastic on the table. It was easy to read
as the text was black, large, and modestly plain: "Rachel Morwitzer,
Arcology Research." She rose to stand.
"I really have to get going anyway..."
"That's no problem," Gabe assured her, smiling warmly. "It was really good
seeing you again."
She returned the smile. “See ya Gabey.”
His eyes tracked her movement as she made quick excuses to her abandoned
table mates, and walked out of the restaurant into the rain. What did the
ancient records his mother kept used to sing? "Don't you love her as she's
walkin' out the door?" He shook his head, embarrassed at his own
sentimentality. That was a long time ago.
"A lady friend of yours?" Startled, Gabe turned to see the Amerindian woman
smiling at him from across the table. "Really, I would have expected a man
of your reputation not to get involved in such a dangerous affair...
certainly not before a business meeting."
"Indeed, Miss Johnson?" he replied coldly, signalling the waiter to take
orders. "Not that it is any of your business, but that was not a 'lady
friend'. Rather an expensive whore I picked up off the street on the way to
this fine establishment. Unless you wish to hire her for her services, why
don't we forget the matter and move on to more pressing issues." It wasn't a
"Indeed," remarked Miss Johnson tonelessly. She had obviously taken offence.
That was fine. It would take her mind off of Rachel, who could be used to
threaten himself. "But let us take our time here. It isn't often I can dine
at such an attractive restaurant during business."
Detecting no sarcasm in her voice, Gabriel felt that Rachel, unlike the
woman who sat opposite him, would have agreed with his opinion that the
Mystic Touch was about as attractive as troll shit.
He was on the street again, this time he had no particular destination. He
was simply walking for the sake of walking. He had discovered years ago back
home that walking was the perfect aid to his thought processes, and it was
to revive nostalgic memories that he had taken to the lit streets of
The streets, he mused, were a comfortable place. He felt a certain sense of
belonging here that he could not find anywhere else. There certainly was an
element of danger... but it was a familiar danger. Danger he knew he could
People of all walks of life crammed the side walks and spilled out onto the
road, hedging him in but at the same time providing security from unwanted
singular attention. Here were the suits, the workers, the pushers, the chip
heads, the junkies, the metas, the gangers, the cops, all walking side by
side to destinations irrelevant. The lights, too, were spectacular,
reflected on the wet bitumen of the roads. Neon of all colours proclaimed
businesses and specialities, as if the humans on the sidewalk below them
were as predictable as insects to be lured by bright lights and flashy
signs. Gabe smiled. He liked that thought. The entire city could be likened
to one huge hive of insects.
His thoughts slowly turned to Rachel. He wondered what she would think of
his dark and cynical state of mind. She would probably be shocked. The
Gabriel she had known two years ago had been open, trusting, friendly, and
desperately afraid of being hated. He supposed he had aged a lot in the last
2 years. But... he couldn't help feeling that there might be some part of
his younger self still alive within him after tonight. Talking with Rachel
had resuscitated memories and emotions long thought to be dead and buried.
He sighed. He was well aware of the fact that it was dangerous to both
himself and Rachel if they continued to see each other. Gabe grinned,
surprising a weedy looking elf walking by. He was also aware of the fact
that he didn't care. His friends and business partners had remarked to him
that he resembled a cat in personality and features... well, everyone knew
that cats were selfish. Gabe was no exception.
"I love this place!"
The two had just returned from a film in Beaux Arts, and Rachel had forced
him to show her his home.
Gabe's apartment was small, but stylish. It was a comfortable arrangement:
light, not too cramped, clean, and attractive. The apartment was a one
bedroom, 1 living room/kitchen/dining room and one bathroom set-out. It
contained little furniture, but what there was was artistic and
aesthetically pleasing to the eye. A carved real-wood coffee table, a set of
comfy looking synth-leather sofas, and a weaved rug of rough wool were the
main features of decoration that caught the attention. Everything looked
Smiling, Gabe retrieved her coat. "Not as good as the accommodation the
company provides for you, I'm sure."
"Oh, this is much better than my corporate suite," she insisted absent
mindedly while making her way to the kitchen bench. "This place has some
Walking to stand beside her, Gabriel could guess what had caught her
Smiling nostalgically, she picked up a holopic, one of a group that were
placed neatly on the bench. It was a family holo, taken 3 years ago at an
outdoor barbecue. The picture centred on Gabriel, and a younger looking
woman with shoulder length brown hair and a bright smile.
"Janey's looking nice," she commented. "Still studying hard at Uni?"
He nodded. "This should be her last year in Occult Studies at Sydney
University. We're all very proud of her."
Rachel smiled as she put the holo down. "As you should be. She's an amazing
woman. You're lucky to have a little sister like her."
He handed her the coat and walked her to the door.
"When can we do this again?" he asked casually as they both stepped outside.
She grinned mischievously, golden hair bouncing lightly as she turned toward
"Whenever I can fit you in to my busy corporate schedule, love boy."
"What am I, your fancy-man?" he replied, laughing.
They kissed. It was long and breath-taking, though it ended to his mind too
soon. Their foreheads sustained the close contact, and Gabe noted that her
skin smelled as sweet as the perfume on her wrists.
"I had a great time tonight," she whispered.
"I'll call you tomorrow," Gabe promised, and as he watched her step onto the
sidewalk to signal a taxi, he realised that for the first time since he
could remember it had stopped raining.
Some believe that the measure of the soul is Purity. This purity can take
the form of ethical principles, but this is in relation to a more personal
belief rather than a religious faith. Physical purity is a concept, and the
term "My Body is my Temple" is still very much alive in today's world of
2055. Purity of the Soul can even be physical cleanliness, as Mrs
Ogmore-Pritchard of the last century's literary work, "Under Milkwood" by
Dylan Thomas, obviously believed. A troll who frequantly washes his
underwear can be pure in soul as a result of his hygiene, if that is what he
But there are others, individuals with darker minds than the religiously
hygienic troll. Individuals that would kill the Troll simply for existing.
Individuals that rate Purity of the Soul as a racial privilege.
Hubert Jamesson is one of these people, although he claims he knows nothing
He kneels on the floor, fists clenched tightly together as if praying, and
fervently insists that he is not a member of The Pure Human Rights Group, a
spin off of the Humanis Policlub. His knuckles are white where the red has
not touched them. His eyes are wild, and tears run unashamedly down his
face, where yesterday he had bragged to his corporate pals in a bar that he
hadn't shed a single tear in 26 years. The man who has introduced himself as
"Smith" should know. He had been listening, doing his homework. Jamesson
continues to drool in fear, gaping like a fish, and his expensive looking
suit trousers are further soiled as a puddle continues to expand on his
There have been other fluids spilt this day. The walls that drip red are
proof of that
"Next time," the Smith speaks, "It won't be a paint bomb."
The room is red. Red is the colour of blood. Red is the subconcious colour
"O-of course," Jamesson stammers, "P-please, just don't kill me!"
"If I wanted to kill you," Smith replies matter-of-factly, "I would have
done it already."
"Look, I'll... I'll give you anything you want, just don't - "
"Shut up," Smith snaps impatiently. Jamesson yelps at the outburst, and then
bites his tongue so hard he bleeds.
"Likewise," says Smith, calmer, "I would have taken anything I wanted if
that was what I was here for. I'm a professional, Hubert. I don't involve
myself in activities outside the contract of employment."
"Co, contract?" Jamesson whispers waveringly.
"Yes, a 'co, contract'," says the masked man in his oh-so-cultured, mocking
deep voice. "Someone in the company knows about you - let's not name names -
and is, well, pissed off, Hue." The man, who is dressed completely in black
with a balaclava hiding his features, begins to pace the paint covered room.
Before his planted paint-bomb had exploded and he had stepped out from the
bathroom in which he had been hiding, Hubert Jamesson's apartment had been a
modest but likable living space. The carpet was thick and luxurious, the
trideo set new, and the furniture attractive and matching synth-wood. The
red paint covering everything, and destroying all the pretty baubles
Jamesson lives with had been a brilliant psychological attack, and something
the masked man still congratulates himself on as a master-stroke. It was
just as well the job was turning out to be easy once inside: for a low-level
researcher in a corporation, Jamesson's apartment security had been
"This someone," Smith continues, "Doesn't approve of your connections.
You've been a bad boy, Hubert Jamesson. A very bad boy. You've fallen in
with the wrong crowd. Racist Policlubs are fun and games only until you
bring the media's attention on your company for being involved in some
scandalous affair involving anti-metahuman sentiments, bad for business
dontchaknow," he turns towards the snivelling man, and leans in slightly,
"The company realises that you are too stupid to understand the consequences
of your actions. That's why I'm here, Huey." Obviously enjoying the
situation, the man's words are deliciously drawn out and caress every
syllable. He is extremely condescending, and the manner in which he paces
the room speaks clearly of his dismissal of Hubert Jamesson as any sort of
Provoked to a blinding rage and finally finding a spine (no brain attached),
Jamesson lunges at the man. "I'll fragging kill you" are about the only
words to escape his mouth before he is pounded into the red wall by the
masked man. The corper slides, whimpering, to the ground.
Delighting in the obvious, Smith cannot help himself. "That was sort of
"What - what do you want?" Jamesson gasps, sobbing.
"This is where I'm supposed to say: 'I want your Soul', right? Well, if it's
your soul you think I want, you can keep it. I don't want that filthy thing.
It makes me gag just being this close to you."
"Please," the pathetic man pleads as he weeps. "No jokes... please...I'll
anything...just go away..."
Slightly disturbed by how easily broken the man is, Smith decides to relent.
He squats down beside the victim.
"What my employer wants is for you to cut your ties with the Policlub. It's
as simple as that. Of course, you don't have a choice."
"No, no," he fervently insists, as eager as a dog. "No, no, of course not.
hated them anyway, honest. I, I love metahumans! I dated an elf once, she
was really nice, and she wore great clothes!"
What relevance his ex-girlfriend’s fashion sense has to the situation
escapes the masked man, but by now the whole sordid ordeal was losing even
it's minimal entertainment value and fast becoming sad and pathetic.
"All I need to know, Hubert Jamesson, is that you'll stop attending the
Policlub meetings. You'll also stop seeing any members. You'll never talk
about this again."
Drained of emotional energy and lacking even the will to cry anymore,
Jamesson nods dumbly.
"Good," says the masked man brightly before he breaks the corper's arm with
one deft and well placed kick.
"Nothing personal, Hue," says Smith, raising his voice over Jamesson's
screams. "Just something to prove the company means business. If this wasn't
about real stinkers like you humanis scum, I probably would have been easier
Smith makes it out of the complex unscathed and unmarked, but for a little
red paint on his boots. Leaving footprints as he made his getaway hadn't
been a problem: before the bomb had exploded he had applied a thin coat of
plastic to his soles, and removed them before taking his leave of Hubert
It is only until he is cloaked in the shadows of an alley blocks away that
he removes his balaclava.
Gabriel lets out an explosive sigh. Though his working persona had concealed
his inner emotions, it had been a horrible job for the young man.
"Intimidation runs are definitely not my thing," Gabe can't help saying,
grimacing as he disposes of his shoes, gloves, and mask in a dumpster
nearby. Under normal circumstances, Gabe would definitely not have taken
such a disgusting job. It was only to further distract Miss Johnson from his
involvement with Rachel that he had ever agreed to work Jamesson over, and
the added bonus of Jamesson being a Humanis supporter had helped in
accepting the job. Gabe smiles mirthlessly. It had taken some heavy effort
to remove the plastic business card from the table without his employer
realising, although her preoccupation with the Mystic Touch's cuisine had
He is well aware of the damage a Johnson could do to him, holding intimate
knowledge of the loved ones of a Runner. He had promised himself upon
entering the relationship with Rachel that he would do this properly, with
all the precautions he could possibly muster or conceive. It took a lot of
energy to be this careful, but to Gabriel's mind it was all worth it. He is
meeting Rachel again for dinner tomorrow.
But tonight he has a date with a different woman.
The meet place was an abandoned parking lot in Touristville, Redmond.
Located away from many of the new buildings and structures being constructed
to promote the failing area, it was a large expanse of flat grey concrete,
cracked in many places where stubborn plants had made an effort to reach the
faint glow of the sun, reaching up-turned leaves longingly to the sky. Cars,
or rather the hulking and rusted wreckages of cars, littered the lot
restricting a clear line of sight to the road and buildings on the perimeter
from virtually anywhere a figure stood in the square of land. It was, in
effect, cut off from the outside world. What further accentuated this fact
was the abundance of street graffiti covering any flat or clear surface. A
newcomer to the streets of Redmond would feel as if they had stepped into
another dimension, upon entering the lot from the surrounding district. A
dimension that promoted chaos and disorder, for there was no sense or
pattern whatsoever in either the spray-painted words or the indiscriminate
placing of the abandoned cars.
Miss Johnson, observed Gabriel, would probably be feeling extremely out of
place in such a backdrop. But she was not. Instead she stood in the centre
of the lot, hands placed on slim hips in a dominant, in-control stance that
said she didn't care she was an alien in this world. That was the first
thing to make Gabriel suspicious. The second was her wide, friendly grin.
Deciding not to make his way to the relatively open centre of the lot with
his Johnson, Gabriel hugged the perimeter of the small clearing. Becoming
aware of the Runner's reluctance to follow, the amerindian woman turned to
her employee and smiled reassuringly.
"Surely, Mr Smith, you aren't afraid of a little woman like me?"
"Johnsons are never this nice," replied the young man.
She laughed, a light and disgustingly attractive trill that was even more
out of place here than her tailored ash grey Vashon Island suit.
"Really, Mr Smith, I didn't expect you to be the type of man who had a sense
of humour." she said, still smiling.
You don't know anything about what kind of person I really am, he felt like
saying. Instead, he simply snorted.
"I grow impatient of this casual situation, Miss Johnson. I would request
that you make the transfer of credit owed, so that we may both return safely
to our respective homes."
She changed abruptly, in both body language and speech. Her voice attained a
rich, seductive note.
"I really loved dining with you at the Mystic Touch the other night," she
purred. Ignoring his request completely, she beckoned him with a crooked
finger and pouting lips. Is was blatantly obvious she wanted him to come
further into the clearing.
Normally by this time he would have had had enough, and would be beginning
to lose his temper. Tonight, however, he was starting to get scared.
"Cut the crap Johnson," he snapped as he began to pull from a concealed
underarm holster his heavy pistol. Once again the woman’s attitude shifted,
this time reverting back to her cold, business personality. Even Johnson’s
wore masks, he thought.
"Before you make such a rash gesture," Johnson stated quickly, "Consider:
you value money over life?"
Clearing the cold, heavy chunk of metal from it's resting place and training
it's sights on the woman, Gabriel smiled as a tiny dot of red laser appeared
on her forehead. "You are in absolutely no position to make threats to me,
Miss Johnson of Mitsuhama."
"You misunderstand, Mr Smith," she said, blinking at the light that was
surely blinding her. Previously, Gabriel was only a little scared. Now, he
was terrified as Johnson began to smile. "I’m not threatening you. Not
directly." She insisted.
Gabriel's blood ran cold as he realised what was about to happen.
A large man clothed in the uniform of Mitsuhama’s security personnel stepped
out from behind a wrecked car, holding in his arms a kicking, cursing woman.
"Gabey!" Rachel cried as she caught sight of her lover. Her golden hair was
tousled, and there were lived red marks on her arms and face to suggest that
she had been roughly handled, or even interrogated. His blood would have
been boiling if he wasn't feeling so damned apocalyptic.
"Fuck," He whispered. It was all that he could say, as the realisation
firmly set in that it was all over. He dropped his gun in pure shock.
"As I see it, "Mr Smith", you are now completely under our power." Her
flexible and shifting voice gained a new dimension: smugness. "We have
Rachel Morwitzer, top-notch paranormal and scientific researcher for the
Renraku Corporation, who just happens to be very important to you."
"Gabey, Gabriel what's happening?" demanded Rachel, still struggling. She
and the Mitsuhama goons were maybe 10 metres away, and he was well aware
that if he started running toward them a sniper would probably take him down
even before the guard holding her crushed her beautiful throat.
"We found it infinitely amusing, Mr Smith, to discover your lady friend knew
absolutely nothing of your occupation." Johnson continued to gloat,
obviously treasuring the moment in which she mastered the arrogant young
runner. "I must admit, you were quite clever in trying to distract my
attention from her that first night at the Mystic Touch, but we Johnson's
are always far cleverer than you gutter trash ever suspect. We have ways of
discovering things you couldn’t even conceive."
"The card on the table gave it away, hmm?" All that was left to him was his
wit. Unruffled, Johnson ignored his last comment.
"We've made the best of interrogating Miss Morwitzer without damaging her
excessively. The result of that little talk we've had is that we now know
everything about you, Smith... or should I call you Gabriel Turner?"
Every Runner's worst nightmare, apart from being geeked, is to be screwed by
their Johnson in a way that can't be handled. Gabriel had feared this
moment, and thought that if he was particularly careful he had a good chance
of avoiding it. He now only realised how wrong he was.
"Fine." He said loudly in an effort to act bored. "What's the deal then?
Obviously if you wanted to kill me to avoid payment you could have done that
already. What do I have to do to stay alive? Can we both get out of this
The amerindian woman tossed back her hair, and smiled as if pleased. "You
definitely are smarter than the average runner, Mr Turner."
"Runner?" Spoke a small voice. Rachel had been silently listening, intrigued
with the proceedings despite her fear. Only now, when she was shocked to
speech, did she voice any of her thoughts. She was cuffed soundly by her
captor for her inquiry. All the young Runner could do was grit his teeth.
"The deal is that Miss Morwitzer changes employment. She works for Mitsuhama
Research where we can keep an eye on her. She must work willingly after we
have extracted her from the Arcology, otherwise we will kill you, Gabriel."
"What do you require of me?"
Eyes narrowed like a predatory snake, Johnson grinned wickedly. "You work
for us now. You are effectively a Mitsuhama employee, only you will never be
listed in any corporate database. You will run the shadows like you have
always done, only you will tell us everything about what you do. Everything.
What your friends or associates do, anything you know about your friend’s or
associate’s previous lives, the word on the street, what your fixer's tell
you, all of this will be related to your Mitsuhama contact. Secretly, of
course. There will also be no such thing as a choice in what employment you
take, either. We will choose what jobs are appropriate. Also, if the need
arises we will expect you to lend a helping hand to regular Mitsuhama
security personnel in any goal that you would be better suited to
Pausing briefly for breath, her grin got wider. Something Gabe would have
thought impossible. "You will do all this, and you will do it without
complaint. If it ever becomes apparent that you wish to skip your
"employment", we will terminate Miss Morwitzer."
"Not a problem, Miss Johnson, what else would you like me to do?" he
"Don't push it, Shadowrunner," Silent until now, the goon holding Rachel
growled menacingly. "I could hurt both you and this pretty girl if I wanted
Looking very satisfied, Johnson straightened her jacket and trousers. "Well
then, I believe that is all we have to talk about. I'll be seeing you soon,
Mr Turner. We will contact you as soon as we have filed a report of
tonight's successful project."
They turned to leave, and began to walk away from the clearing in the lot.
They travelled only a few steps before they heared a faint hissing.
They turned as one to locate the sound. The goon clenched one meaty arm
around the neck of Rachel, and the other arm reached for a pistol holstered
at his thigh. Johnson herself drew a Colt American L36 from the folds of her
clothing. But for all their fears, they were only startled by the sound of
Gabriel Turner's laughter.
It grew from a hiss to a choking, painful noise at the back of his throat.
It gradually escalated to full-blown laughter, booming out and reverberating
across the expanse of the abandoned lot. The Mitsuhama cronies were simply
speechless as the trapped runner doubled over, clutching his sides as he
Eventually, his mirth trailed off into silence and he wiped his eyes clear
of the tears.
"You acted so satisfied," he said, grinning, “I’m almost sorry we’re going
to spoil it for you.”
It was already too late, even for wired reflexes. The goon drew his piece
and simultaneously made an effort to choke the girl in his arm, but an
entire body, even cybered, is no match for a pre-emptive trigger finger. The
bullet shot through the air and pounded into the large man's skull, the
explosive charge secreted in the tip of the slug exploding as it buried
itself in the man's flesh. The power of the shot blew half his head off.
Miss Johnson knew, just as Gabriel had faked knowing. She was hosed. It was
over, but she was going to make an effort to ensure it was as painful for
the Runner as possible. She swivelled her arms and gun to train the sight on
Rachel. Her movement didn't get halfway to completing itself before an
invisible force knocked her 3 metres into the air to hit the hood of a
broken car. There was an audible crunch, and then she sprawled limply to the
Gabriel slowly made his way to the dying woman, glowing with power. It was
all Johnson could do to lift her head and croak hoarsely. That and bleed.
"You're... you're a Mage..."
"A Shaman, actually," was his reply. "My Fixer told me that a Johnson was
asking for a runner to perform an intimidation run. All I had to do was get
the job done, and that's all I informed my fixer to tell the prospective
employer: That I could get the job done. You never did probe, or ask what
was it I did." He smiled, but there was no humour in that smile as he
touched a silver ring on his left hand. "Thank you for your carelessness."
Johnson began to cough and hack, and it took a second for Gabriel to realise
she was laughing.
"Looks like I was right," she stated bitterly, "You are smarter than the
She exploded into a ball of flame. Death was instantaneous. Although he knew
that she was a bad woman, Gabriel couldn't help but remember that brief
moment he had realised her working self had been a mask, probably different
to her real personality. That one tiny but significant thread linked the two
of them with a strength that disturbed him greatly. If he had met her under
Rachel was being attended to by his friends. He walked hurriedly to her
"I still don't understand what happened," whispered Rachel.
Afternoon light streamed through the windows to bathe the recovery bed in
soft, comfortable warmth. The entire room denoted a bright and calming
theme: colours were pastel and soft, and even the hospital equipment in the
room appeared to be unthreatening as they were coloured a passive pink. Real
wattle flowers native to Australia, expensive and very rare in the Seattle
megaplex, gave off a pleasant aroma from the bedside stand. It had taken a
lot of work to find a florist who stocked them.
They were in a Doc Wagon clinic, for Rachel had a Platinum Service contract
with the company. She was recovering from her ordeal in a private room, as
befitted a patron paying 50,000 nuyen a year for the deal. Although her
wounds weren’t serious Gabe could hardly blame her for wanting to spend time
away from the real world after her experience. In the space of a few days
she had been abducted and forcefully removed from her normal life,
interrogated, and she had on top of that come to the realisation that her
lover was not only magically active, but a Shadowrunner.
The bed was probably supposed to be comfortable and attractive with it's
luxurious sheets and bed covers, but to Gabriel any hospital bed, no matter
how well decorated or disguised brought to mind unfortunate images and
connotations: Needles, scalpels, antiseptics and sickness.
Shifting uncomfortably in the visitor's chair, he spoke. "You know, I think
they deliberately provide uncomfortable chairs so that visitors leave early,
letting customers recover in peace and quiet."
She smiled tiredly. "They should make them extra comfortable so patients
don't get enough peace and quiet...that way we stay longer, and pay more for
He tried to return the weak smile. "I’m surprised they haven’t done that,"
They sat together in strained silence for a few moments longer, until she
simply couldn't stand it.
"Gabey... you didn't answer me."
He sighed. He had to admit, it was a pretty horrible attempt at avoiding the
"Alright. Here's the explanation then." Remaining seated, he stared at the
floor and mustered the energy to speak.
"I didn't trust the Johnson. Any Runner who does is meat from the word go.
But I didn't trust this Johnson in particular. I knew she was from
Mitsuhama, that much was obvious because the guy I was supposed to
intimidate was a Mitsuhama employee, for protection of their public
reputation." He paused and turned to face the bed.
"Silly isn't it? Mitsuhama's as dirty as they come, and everyone knows it.
Anyway, This guy was supposedly a low level researcher for the company. I
was supposed to break into his apartment block with whatever resources at my
disposal, and intimidate the drek out of him so that he'd leave the human
supremacy policlub he had joined.
"Actually getting into his apartment was the hardest part of the run. You
should of seen the kind of security inside that building... they had
vibration and air pressure detectors..!" Catching the uncomprehending
expression on Rachel's drawn face, he decided not to elaborate. "Suffice it
to say," he continued, "That kind of protection is not only excessive, it's
expensive. I suspected that the man I was hired to work over was more than
he seemed, and more than the Johnson said he was. It wouldn't be the first
time something like this has happened. If that was the case, then Johnson
hadn't told me for a reason: she didn't want people knowing about him. She
might even be willing to double-cross her runner to ensure her secrecy.
Anyway, so that got me suspicious, and I took appropriate safety measures at
He stopped for a moment, and looked down at an incredulous Rachel.
"So... you're saying that you didn't even expect her to kidnap me? To use me
to get to you? You weren't expecting that? You were just acting on a hunch
about some guy you'd beaten up? It was just a coincidence that you were
being cautious about something else?" The barrage of questions that were
really accusations hit him with considerable force, but he remained a rock
against the crashing waves.
"Yes." He stated simply. “Sometimes, in my line of work, you get lucky. You
tend not to complain about it, and move on... I guess I just had a lot of
karma to burn.”
She was silent, and continued to stare at him.
“My relationship with you and the consequences of that closeness were
dangerous... but I didn’t believe Johnson would pose as much of a problem as
She remained mute.
He decided to keep speaking, "Even though I was expecting trouble at the lot
in Redmond, it came as a surprise to see that Johnson had discovered who you
were." His analytical voice finally cracked, and he moved to Rachel’s side,
stretching out a hand to brush her cheek tenderly.
"I was honestly terrified they'd hurt you," he whispered.
She avoided his hand by moving to the other side of the bed.
Gabriel straightened, and when he spoke next his voice had resumed it's
strong, emotionless quality. "I asked some shadow friends of mine to cover
me at the meet. They're very good at what they do. Although we knew nothing
about the site Johnson would set up for the meet, improvisation is part of
being a good runner. The whole time I was talking to Johnson they were
scouting the lot for any would-be-ambushers, and taking them out as quietly
as possible. I work with a couple of other magicians, and their help was
invaluable in getting it done without noise, so as not to tip off my
He shrugged. "It became a matter of talking to them, stalling them while
they gloated. When it was almost too late, that's when I acted. I caused a
scene (that was my hysterical laughter) to stop them leaving, and I guess
you could call the goon's head exploding a signal from my buddies that they
had everything under control. I cast a spell targeted on Miss Johnson... and
you know the rest."
Silence surrounded them as they were both engrossed in their thoughts,
reliving the moment in their minds.
"That's it then?" She finally asked.
"I have a question."
"When the hell did you become a Shaman?"
The question brought a smile to his face. It was a genuine, open smile, and
under the circumstances he felt good that he could actually manage it. The
smile faltered as he noticed she didn't ask how long he had been a
shadowrunner. That, he supposed, still had to be wrestled with in her mind.
"I was always a Shaman," he replied, "I've always followed my Totem's way.
It was only 3 years ago that I heard Her call, but I have been under Her
protection and guidance my entire life."
"So the Dumas test you took that time was inaccurate. What's your totem?"
"Not 'what', 'Who'."
It was her turn to smile... it wasn't as bright or as wide as her smile used
to be. "I should have guessed," was all she said.
They didn't speak again for a good 5 minutes. It was Gabriel this time who
broke the silence
"That's it then?" He inquired. He wasn't talking about the ordeal in the
Barrens, or an end to the questions.
"That's it." She replied firmly.
He closed his eyes, but didn't say anything. He knew that whatever he said
it wouldn't make a difference. Too much damage had been done. He stood, said
goodbye. She just nodded. He gave her one last, long look... and walked out
They didn't speak again for a good 4 years.
...In this world, and in his line of business, a person was either one of
Them or one of the outcasts. People learned that quickly, or they got hurt.
He had thought he'd learned his lesson a long time ago, but now Gabriel
realised just how wrong he was. His first mistake had been to involve
himself with one of Them. His second was that he had tried to sustain two
very different people simultaneously: Smith, and the man old friends knew as
Gabriel Turner. It was a sad truth, and one that he had known from the
beginning but hadn't faced up to: there was only room for one of these
personalities in his life.
It began to rain as he started the long walk home. But that was fine. He
even welcomed the dripping water for once. It masked the tears that were
fresh on his face.
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