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Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


Yeah, Wendigos in Shadowrun are the stuff of nightmares.

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CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

Deadmeat5150 posted:

But do you believe in life after love?

Umm, sure?

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


All right. Back from the hospital and neurologist. No damage to my brain which was what I was most worried about. Went to a neurologist and I have a laundry list of physical activities I need to do to figure out where, when and how I get dizzy along with getting blood work done and some head scans. If that doesn't pan out I go to a cardiologist. However I ruled out anything that was going to just kill me outright.

Anyway, back to writing. I'll review what I wrote and see if I can finish it all up. Writing now.

Toughy
Nov 29, 2004

KAVODEL! KAVODEL!


Good news so far, hope they figure it out!

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


Fuzzy and Sasha – December 25th 2074 – Afternoon - Mammoth Lakes, California

The powder was thick on the ground. She'd seen it on the bullet train ride from Seattle to San Fran. She was told that yes there was snow in Tir Tairngire, formerly Oregon, but the xenophobic elven nation required the shutters of the train to be closed so as not to be seen. This depressed Fuzzy a bit. The first new nation she'd visited and she couldn't even see it. Northern California was great though, at least the part that hadn't been annexed by Tir years back, Sasha told her. Fuzzy still hadn't caught up to current world events yet. It was northern California in which she saw snow up close for the first time. Not snow like on the days where the smog was thin enough to see mount Rainier's snow-capped peak, but close enough to touch. It wasn't hard packed like she thought, but it looked loose. Almost too pretty to touch.

She'd done her research, double checked to make sure what she was about to do was okay, distracted Sasha with a pointed finger and a gesture and then she dug her bare hand into the snow, packed it just like those online tutorials taught her, hours of careful research, making sure there were no rocks in it at all, she threw her first snowball at Sasha and missed. Sasha was too quick on the draw. She yelped, ran for the snow bank which the plow made at the side of the road, grabbed a handful of the stuff, and while Fuzzy was distracted by just how cold her hand was Sasha's own snowball impacted on Fuzzy's winter coat right on the shoulder with a soft paf sound.

"Yes!" shouted Sasha.

Fuzzy didn't exactly react well to failure. She had Puppy's leash in her left hand and he looked up at her for guidance. He whined softly. She stroked his head, he licked her hand and she walked back to hand him off to Duncan, the slender elf, one of Sasha's two bodyguards, family bodyguards to be exact.

"Hold his leash, please," said Fuzzy.

"Sure, kid," he said.

"Five nuyen on Sasha," said Beef, and grinned toothily.

Beefs cyberware hummed softly under his coat as he folded her arms. The big ork noticed that he was a little slower than usual. He'd have to get his cybernetics winterized.

"You kidding me? Fuzzy's too fast," said Duncan.

"I've been coming up with her since she was six when Matt and I were just family friends," said Beef. "She'll surprise you."

Fuzzy listened, but was already walking away while Sasha shouted out her triumph. She cracked her knuckles.

"It's a bet then," said Duncan.

So the girls began to throw. Fuzzy spent her time learning about her environment on the way up here as soon as she was invited. She did her research, pored over survival tutorials and even played her first AR game which pitted her against the cold, wild animals, making fire and scrounging for food, and actually taught some of these skills at a basic level while playing it which caught her eye in the first place. However none of this actually prepared her for just how cold the snow was, how to properly roll a snowball, how to pitch it, and so Sasha, resident snowball champion hit her again and again and again while Fuzzy missed and missed and missed.

"Give up yet?" asked Sasha, smugly.

She casually tossed a snowball into the air. Fuzzy watched it, not her, and timed her spell carefully and went invisible.

"You dirty cheater," said Sasha.

"Okay, double or nothing?" asked Duncan.

"Sure," said Beef. "Easy money."

Fuzzy stayed silent, but smiled triumphantly. However she'd forgotten something important. Sasha could see into the astral all the time. So Sasha merely lifted her new glasses, scanned for her girlfriend and drilled her with another snowball in her center mass. Fuzzy picked a ball up, but the snow didn't magically disappear from her body or her hand. She would've had to recast to make what she was touching or what was touching her invisible and Fuzzy didn't know that. So while Fuzzy, despite her concentration hit Sasha one more time, Sasha whiffed only once and hit her twice more. Fuzzy only scored a single pitiful hit to Sasha's six. Sasha absolutely trounced Fuzzy. You can read all of the tutorials and scan all the manuals in the world, but nothing beats real world experience.

Fuzzy went visible again, brushed herself off, smiled slightly at Sasha and went back to Sasha’s bodyguards to retrieve Puppy’s leash.

“You got me,” she admitted, and shrugged slightly.

“Anytime anywhere,” she teased.

Fuzzy and Sasha – December 25th 2074 – Afternoon - Mammoth Lakes, California

Sasha asked about taking Fuzzy skiing, but Fuzzy did not at all trust putting her life in the hands of flimsy looking sticks on one’s feet guided by even flimsier ones. Besides, the lines to get up the mountain looked crazy. Apparently quite a few people were eager to use the lift to go up the mountain.

“We could just wait and go up. You get a different view from up high,” said Sasha.

“I already get high up views from your room,” said Fuzzy.

Sasha and her parents did live near the heights of the Ares Macrotechnology arcology. While it wasn’t the biggest corporate enclave in Seattle it still went up over a hundred stories.

“Tomorrow then?” asked Sasha. “We’ll be here until the new year.”

“I can do tomorrow,” Fuzzy replied. “Maybe early when there aren’t so many people.”

Fuzzy’s gift burned a hole in her pocket. It felt so small and silly compared to what she’d gotten from the Oliver family. She did have nuyen in the bank even if most of that was being used to pay down her spearknife, but what did you give the girl who could have anything? She’d been intimidated by all of those gifts. Not because they were expensive, though some of them were, but because they’d been thoughtful and she’d never actually given a proper gift to anyone before.
The girls decided to go on a short hike with snow shoes through the woods. Beef was having a hard time of it due to his weight, but Duncan seemed to be all right. Puppy bounded and played in the snow, the girls laughed and joked and shared secrets.

“You know, when I’m up close to buildings that are even taller than these mountains, I never minded it after the first few days. Seeing these mountains makes me feel small. I’m not sure how I feel about that,” said Fuzzy.

“Really?” asked Sasha.

“Yeah.”

Sasha looked about, pondered and shrugged.

“I’ve been coming up here for so long that maybe I just take them for granted,” said Sasha. “This was our family vacation spot for years. Mom, dad and I went skiing in the winters. Grandma, my dad’s mom, she used to live here and she took him skiing too. She lived here when this place was part of the old United States when she was a girl. So this is a sort of family tradition. If there is something I’m not entirely thrilled about when it comes to Ares is that if you let them, they’ll take your traditions away and replace them with corporate ones.”

They walked for a little longer in the quiet between the trees.

“Hey, don’t tell anyone I said that, okay?” asked Sasha.

Fuzzy seemed distracted and Sasha noticed as there was no immediate response. She was about to complain when she decided to lift her glasses instead. Sasha still wasn’t great at reading people. In fact she’d only gotten worse at it since she awakened. It was only then that she saw something sad and dark worming around inside of Fuzzy.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” asked Sasha.

“It’s nothing. Silly,” deflected Fuzzy.

“You know I’m just going to keep asking,” said Sasha.

It was true. Sasha was a world class wheedler. Or at least locally famous.

“I um…I lost,” said Fuzzy, sheepishly.

“Lost what?” asked Sasha, confused.

“The snowball fight,” she said, lamely.

Sasha almost burst out laughing right then and there, but stuffed it down. It was obviously bothering Fuzzy. Instead she cleared her throat.

“What’s so wrong about that?” asked Sasha, instead.

They continued to walk for a time. Fuzzy stayed quiet as people coming the other way with another dog, this one a Husky breed, became curious and sniffed at Puppy. Puppy had never really been trained, but he didn’t lunge or bark or do other things poorly socialized dogs do. Fuzzy took this entirely for granted and after the quick sniff she began to talk.

“Losing…” she started, and groped for words, “Losing reminds me of all of those times that I was hungry, injured or being chased.”

“Didn’t you lose a lot as a kid though?” asked Sasha. “I mean you had to in order to get better.”

“No. Not really,” Fuzzy said. “The losers would die. When I got too big I had to go and earn my keep in different ways. There would be days where I’d lose, but that would almost always mean I’d be hungry the next day. The barrens is a teacher and its lessons are cruel.”

“I’m sorry,” said Sasha, reflexively.

Fuzzy waved her off.

“Don’t be. I started it. I just wanted to have fun, but didn’t expect it to drag up the memories. It’s silly. I’ll get over it. Hey, I have a present for you,” she said.
Sasha noted that Fuzzy quickly changed topics, but decided to let it slide. She was also distracted by the sudden thin present wrapped ever so neatly in her hands.

“You know you didn’t have to give me a present,” said Sasha.

“I know. That’s why it’s a present, right? That’s how these things work?” asked Fuzzy.

Sasha nodded, paused and opened up the present. She came out with a booklet. Real paper and the booklet was thin. Everything was written in Fuzzy’s cramped handwriting. This was actually significant as most people didn’t even learn how to write anymore. Almost everything was typed. Sasha flipped through it, and she read each new page out loud.

“One date night of your choice, I will try to cook something for you, a day for us, win one argument…Fuzzy, didn’t you say that losing is hard for you?” she asked.

“Yeah,” said Fuzzy, simply.

Sasha smiled despite herself and continued flipping. There seemed to be six more.

“Clean my cabin, teach me your spells, oh wow, that’s a big one. I take forever to learn those. Umm…Go camera hunting, grow out your hair,” she said, and paused.

Fuzzy shifted nervously.

“Would you like that?” asked Fuzzy.

The pages were meant to be torn out and so Sasha presented Fuzzy with that ticket.

“Not too long. Maybe something I can run my fingers through,” said Sasha. “We’ll look at styles when we get home, okay?”

Fuzzy smiled sheepishly and nodded, tucked the piece of paper into her pocket. Matt got his knew hunting rifle, Anita got family time, Fuzzy got her birthday and even if just a little bit, she gave up control to Sasha. She was after all her best friend in the world.

CYOA Time

How seriously do each of the girls take the booklet?

I will say that I’m not wasting your time here. This will be an impactful decision should we choose Fuzzy for act four.

Snowball fight. I rolled a bunch. Fuzzy doesn't have any throwing skills which means she's at a -1 and the snow is distracting because it's cold, another -1. Sasha on the other hand has some skill in throwing so they're evenly matched. What clinches it is Sasha's edge stat which is a point higher than Fuzzy's and Fuzzy's poor dodge rolls. Fuzzy misses three times and Sasha hits three times. Fuzzy went invisible but that's not perfect. She only got one hit on her invisibility spell which means she's sort of hazy. I don't want to look this up so I'll say that Sasha can still sort of see her, but she gets a -1 to all net hits. At least she would have if Sasha didn't actively see her aura. In fact Fuzzy just made things harder for herself by not thinking things through, because Sasha just has to lift up her new glasses which she does. Fuzzy gets -2 dice to everything because she's concentrating, but she's no longer distracted by the cold because she’s used to it now.

Fuzzy actually hits Sasha once and after a rapid fire exchange Sasha hits her back. Invisibility isn't as useful in a confined space as they're surrounded on both sides by snow on a concrete sidewalk. Fuzzy tries to sneak behind Sasha while invisible, but doesn't realize that invisibility doesn't work on people who can see into the astral, IE Sasha. Fuzzy gets tagged again and did not spend her turn getting a snowball and gets tagged a third time. Fuzzy gets trounced. Invisibility doesn't really work that well in confined spaces when your quarry can paint you with snow, apparently.

Fuzzy takes any loss really hard. It's one of the things that drives her. To her a loss means she's in danger and a lifetime of living in a high stakes environment where failure means death, she can't won't decouple those feelings with a mere semester of safety at school. Loss is emotionally

Ice Phisherman fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2017 around 23:15

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?







Fuzzy is gonna take those coupons real seriously. When she makes a promise, she drat well means it. Giving up control is a huge deal, and I hope Sasha gets that too.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

Ice Phisherman posted:

"Hold his leash, please," said Fuzzy.

Well well well Fuzzy, taking to the Corp Life are we?

Ice Phisherman posted:

“Not too long. Maybe something I can run my fingers through,” said Sasha. “We’ll look at styles when we get home, okay?”

Mom ain't gonna like that Sasha. Also, Sasha

Ice Phisherman posted:

How seriously do each of the girls take the booklet?

Like a heart attack.

These are two teenage girls possibly feeling Love for the first time. I wasn't kidding when I made the Romeo and Juliet referenece.

Ice Phisherman posted:

I will say that I’m not wasting your time here. This will be an impactful decision should we choose Fuzzy for act four.

You leave these two poor girls alone Ice, they didn't do a thing against you.

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


Kenji - December 25th 2074 – Afternoon - The ACHE, 30th floor

Lighters, makeshift torches, burning mattresses, anything that could catch on fire was pitched into the center of the ACHE. The giant ten story trash Santa, reinforced with scrap rebar and covered in old pulled up rugs painted mostly red and white were lashed on top of the trash Santa to help it stay upright. Apparently whatever it was made from was highly flammable, because it caught ablaze in red an noxious green. The people of the ACHE cheered and the Christmas Truce was on. The trash Santa burned merrily as was ACHE tradition.

"Let's get hosed up!" shouted Clever.

He was barely heard over the general roar of the ACHE denizens, but they were all pretty much thinking the same thing. Fifteen years ago in 2059 the AI known as Deus trapped nearly a quarter million people and experimented on them in the old Renraku arcology, now just called the ACHE. After two years less than 2000 were left. Most of them left in the old days as they were mostly Deus cultists, but the sentiment stuck around by those who told the story who were left when the dust settled. gently caress Christmas, gently caress corporatism, gently caress your idols burn it all down lets get wasted.

Clever didn't hold court today. No, he busted out his best to show level 30 pride and went out to meet the people. Guns were strictly off limits but people did light off firecrackers, so the sounds of gunshots never fully went away. They just came with colorful explosions. Kids played war with roman candles and trash can lids, occasionally hitting drunks, addicts and revelers. Bottles were passed around as well as almost any type of drug imaginable. Music was pumping and it was one track outside for the entirety of the ACHE. Getting to choose the playlist was deadly serious, because people knew who picked what and in what order. First few picks were prestigious and politics kills. That was last week though. Today people who were at war with floor 30 the other 364 days a year came down to chill out while residents of 30 went elsewhere. No where was off limits right now, food was everywhere as were drugs. You can go hard any other day of the year but the gently caress Christmas Christmas Truce was sacrosanct. Break it and you'd have to sit on Santa's lap. That is to say the Santa that was currently merrily burning several stories below.

Kenji for his part was sipping on some synth nog with...Something in it. He had no idea, it just tasted awesome. Tangy and creamy and stronger at the bottom. Gentoo was dancing with Yin and Yang, whose actual names were Li and Olivia. Despite Kenji's warnings he'd taken a liking to them and they'd taken a liking to his cred stick. They didn't stay for long though. Clever was out and about, so it was really only down to Min Yun's crew and Kenji minding the shop.

"Ah well. There are worse ways to lose your money," said Kenji, to himself. "At least he'll have fun doing it."

Edward visited moms the day before and had been undergoing some extra counseling sessions, but Kenji didn't mind. He'd become slowly used to days off and for some reason that existential dread he'd felt a few months back was gone. Well, okay, that was a lie. Maybe not completely gone, but usually small enough not to bother him. People moved in and out of Clever's apartment: Allies, friends, well wishers, addicts, pimps, prostitutes, pushers, thugs and even rivals came down to pay respects, but when Clever left they stopped coming. If someone had a beef they'd take it up at first light next morning so everyone could wander on back home. Min Yun dealt him his hand.

"So why aren't you mingling?" she asked.

"I am mingling. I'm here chilling out with the people I care about," said Kenji. "I'm not here enough to have a beef with the other floors so much anymore."

Min Yun and two of her friends, both women, were playing Tiến lên, also called Killer 13. This was her favorite card game and she'd graciously allowed Kenji to play. He wasn't the greatest at it, but at least he knew how to play and could fill a chair. This night was by no means quiet, but it was good to enjoy a party where he didn't feel the obligation to hustle. Well, he did, but he knew he wouldn't get much traction if he tried. Tonight was a night to blow off steam and not to make connections. A good number of the people he talked to wouldn't remember tonight anyway.

"Who's got the three of spades?" asked Min Yun.

Kenji checked his hand.

"Me. Sorry about that. Been a while since I've played," he said.

Kenji started first, but the women laughed at his initial play. He shrugged and drank more soy nog so as not to betray his embarrassment of making rookie mistakes.

"You're lucky we don't skin you," teased Min Yun. "We're not playing for money right now.

"The soy nog helps me feel lucky. Maybe I should just trust in the cards," he said.

Kenji liked Killer 13 despite being bad at the game, but he was fantastic at its metagame. In almost any other card game cheating or playing out of turn would be frowned upon. However peeking at your opponents' cards or playing out of turn was good only so long as you didn't get caught. Killer 13 rewarded the clever. If you had a good enough story or the other players were distracted you could run the table even if you had a hand that was destined to lose. It's only cheating if you get caught. Otherwise it's called craft.

"Did I ever tell you ladies about the brick?" asked Kenji.

Kenji felt a thrill at talking about the until recently taboo subject even though it wasn't the smartest thing to do. He just wanted to enjoy his freedom. Min Yun clucked her tongue.

"You know, you think you'd save one of your best stories for when we're playing for money, Kenji," chided Min Yun.

"Oh it's not that good," he teased, "I definitely have better."

Min Yun took that moment to peek at one of the other players' cards as the two bantered and that informed her strategy. Just a quick peek and her eyes were back on her cards. There was a strict no detection magic rule at the table though as only she could do that. Stealth and subterfuge turned mediocre players into great ones though. At least potentially. That was how the hands went. Kenji told stories, Min Yun won and the other two women tried to appear bored despite their losing. This wasn't a game for stakes after all so he decided to make his friend, his packmate really, happy. It wasn't a spoken rule, but people didn't gamble on the Christmas Truce because sore losers who lost too much tended to get angry. Angry people could react with violence and violence got you put on Santa's burning lap. So the women continue to lose, Kenji continued to tell stories and Min Yun cleaned up a healthy haul of no nuyen.

It was then that something strange happened. The only seat that was open was the one facing the back of the door so he didn't know what was happening. Min Yun frowned, caught Kenji's eyes and flicked his gaze towards the door. Kenji's jaw didn't drop, but he did feel a certain sinking feeling in his stomach. Two armed and armored bodyguards bearing the Lone Star insignia moved into the room and Christina LeBlanc strode into Clever's pad. She wrinkled her nose and tossed her long hair not casually, but as if she was afraid something was in it for a second before she pulled out a comb to brush it out. The pad that only Min Yun, Kenji and the two other women at the moment, and that was when a third guard posted up at the door.

"Found you, Kenji," said Christina in a singsong voice. "My, this place sure is a dump. They're even burning their trash outside. How vulgar."

Min Yun began to reach for the gun she had under the table, but slowly. Painfully slowly.

"Yeah, no, none of that," said Christina to Min Yun. "We come in peace. I just want to talk to Kenji. I'm here for business. I understand that there's...What...Some sort of truce tonight? It'd be a shame if people violated that. I hear they got tossed into the garbage pile. It's pretty on fire right now. Gross. Well, whatever. Anyway these lovely men are just here for my protection. That's all. It'd be silly to come on my own."

And so it was that Christina LeBlanc, daughter of Marie LeBlanc of Lone Star Security Services, sat down on Clever's scrounged couch and waited.

"We have a lot to talk about. You might even say that we have a lot in common," she teased. "I can make it worth your time. I promise. It's Christmas after all. I've got presents."

CYOA Time

What do we do? Christina is in Clever's place sans Clever. Kenji's gun is not on him. Min Yun is armed but not armored. Gentoo is too busy in the other room. Violence can go down, but if we violate it -and- get caught we're in trouble.

Ice Phisherman fucked around with this message at Jan 5, 2018 around 11:36

Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


Refuse, say something witty, then walk away.

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?







I figure talking to the only other LeBlanc-capable person we know can be super useful, but this is our turf, we gotta stay in control. Hear her out, but she goes first and try to give up as little as possible.

Deadmeat5150
Nov 21, 2005

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLAN


Something just occured to me, Christina isnt a LeBlanc because she was born that way. She's the one that survived. Edward was only one of a group of kids. Christina is the one that came out on top.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

Ice Phisherman posted:

CYOA Time

What do we do?

Act as if she's been expected; this is a gang sit-down on truce day, there's no need to be uncivil.

"Christina, there you are, was wondering when we'll finally catch up, we do have so much in common to discuss. Unfortunately I'm afraid the trash smell will linger in your hair for a day or two."

"In any case, one of our lovelies here have been keeping a chair warm for you, please join us. Shall we say 700 nuyen a point?"

RickVoid
Oct 21, 2010


CourValant posted:

Act as if she's been expected; this is a gang sit-down on truce day, there's no need to be uncivil.

"Christina, there you are, was wondering when we'll finally catch up, we do have so much in common to discuss. Unfortunately I'm afraid the trash smell will linger in your hair for a day or two."

"In any case, one of our lovelies here have been keeping a chair warm for you, please join us. Shall we say 700 nuyen a point?"

This is such a bad loving idea but I can't say no to it.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

RickVoid posted:

This is such a bad loving idea . . .

Care to elaborate?

Toughy
Nov 29, 2004

KAVODEL! KAVODEL!


Is the truce to the residents? Or anybody who enters?

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


Toughy posted:

Is the truce to the residents? Or anybody who enters?

Everyone. Non-locals may get their stuff pick-pocketed through.

RickVoid
Oct 21, 2010


CourValant posted:

Care to elaborate?

We win, and Christina gets pissed off and orders her goons to attack us.

We lose, and we and Min are indebted to Christina and lose loyalty with Min (for being a moron).

Personally I feel like any level of personal interaction with Christina is a bad idea but I'm not here to make good decisions, just dramatic and character-appropriate ones. Kenji would love to fleece this bitch.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

Ice Phisherman posted:

Everyone. Non-locals may get their stuff pick-pocketed through.

RickVoid posted:

Kenji would love to fleece this bitch.

Yep. Pretty much what I was going for.

Christina may be allowed to walk out of here, her stuff, not so much.

As for gambling, its a calculated risk; its all about the Meta, as stated by Ice. Between Min, Kenji, and Friend, I'd say the deck is stacked pretty heavily against Christina, and as a Corp Princess, I don't think she cares that much about the nuyen; I highly doubt she'd break truce (which ultimately guarantees her safety here) over nuyen.

If 3 ACHE residents, working together, fail to take Christina for all she's worth, I'd say they deserve the debt. Besides, Kenji would just pay in favors, and, Christina is here to trade anyways; inviting her to sit down is to 'make nice'.

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


All right. It looks like we're going to entertain her by fleecing her of her cash. However it's pretty obvious that she's not here to just play cards. She wants something.

Writing now.

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


Kenji, Min Yun and Christina - December 25th 2074 – Afternoon - The ACHE, 30th floor

Kenji looked to Min Yun, down to the cards and to one of her friends at the table. Min Yun nodded and turned to the women.

"Go get us some drinks," she said, in lightly accented Korean.

The hand signal she used, one where she looked at the three security guards and rubbed her chin said something altogether different.

"Watch the guards," she secretly signed.

Kenji understood and was pleased when they left. Christina had an angle, and getting her closer would at the very least cause her guards not to open fire if it came to that.

"Let's play a game then," said Kenji. "Are you familiar with Tiến lên?"

Christina stood up, brushed herself off and shook her head.

"Not a bit," she said. "Perhaps you can teach me."

"Teaching costs money," said Min Yun. "We bet 700 a hand. I'll explain the rules once per hand. There are rules I will not explain, but you'll only notice them if you're smart."

Christina walked over to the table. The chair Kenji kicked out for her put her directly in line of sight of her guards which may buy him a second or two if they decided to rush him or open fire. That would be bad in the moment, but if they started shooting he could call for help and then all her guards would be sitting on Santa's lap.

"And here I thought gambling wasn't allowed on the Christmas Truce," said Christina, politely.

This impressed Kenji. That was a pretty obscure fact.

"Tourists are fine to gamble with. You're not the only person slumming the ACHE on Christmas," said Min Yun.

She strode up to the chair, patted it, shot a wry look to Kenji and sat down. That gave him a bad feeling which he suppressed.

"Would you kindly explain the rules to me Ms..." started Christina.

"Money first, explanation next, names maybe," said Min Yun, curtly.

Christina turned to Kenji and she shot him a look full of insincere sadness.

"Your friend isn't very polite," she said to Kenji.

"Hospitality dictates that one announces themselves before they enter someone's apartment," said Kenji.

"Ah, but then you wouldn't be here," she said, teasingly. "However I'll try to be a good guest from now on. Banter has its price it seems. I'd hoped we could trade juicy stories though. Playing for money is so provincial."

There's something less than satisfying about the pool of money when it was all electronic. Paper and metal money weren't entirely gone out of the world, but it was mostly offered by corporations, called corp scrip. It was company money that was really only valuable in company shops. So they all slotted their cred sticks into a beaten up device in the middle of the table. The pool shot up to 2100 and Min Yun began to explain. Her explanations were quick, clipped and to the point. Tiến lên, also called Killer 13 is a card shedding game. The loser is the one who has cards at the end of the game. Threes are the lowest card while the highest went from twos to aces and then face cards all the way down to three again. All suits have a worth with hearts being the highest, and then diamonds, clubs and spades being the lowest. Height beats suit. She also explained about pairs and sequences of cards, called fingers, and explained it something like a straight in poker though values were different. The object was to get rid of one's cards quickly, but strategically. Kenji knew how to play and he noticed that Min Yun explained all of these rules in terms that were all slightly wrong, but could be explained away as Christina not understanding the rules correctly if she asked. It was then that one of the two women placed drinks in front of everyone. The placement was subtle, but it seemed that since the front of their bottles were facing them that she had a good number of face cards, but no twos or aces. The woman bowed slightly and then retreated back to the kitchenette with her friend to watch the guards.

The first hand went well for Kenji. He had some great cards and with the knowledge that she was holding a fair number of face cards he only had to worry about Min Yun. Min Yun, a competent card shark did her best to feed wins to Kenji. They were pack after all, and packs shared their kills. Each were 350 nuyen richer at the end of play five minutes later.

"That straight you played there. They don't all have to be the same suit, do they?" asked Christina.

"No," said Min Yun, simply.

Min Yun "clarified" the rules again and Kenji listened for the new strategy that she'd left open by omission. Christina didn't seem perturbed in the least that she was losing and being scammed. Kenji sipped his drink and used the heavy bottle and subtle finger motions to communicate with Min Yun about his own cards and who should go for the next win.

"So why are you here out of all places?" asked Min Yun.

Kenji played out of turn while Christina was distracted and got away with it while she thought of her answer.

"I had to speak to Kenji about some personal matters," said Christina.

Min Yun looked to Kenji, his hand now nearly empty and shot Christina a pointed look.

"No, not that. Please. I have standards," chided Christina.

Min Yun growled low and set down the hand she'd been waiting to play. She'd been baiting out their high cards to set down an unchallenged low four card sequence for her to win the game.

"Again?" asked Min Yun, sharply.

"Yes please. I'm having fun," said Christina, brightly.

Another 2100 nuyen into the pot. They didn't even have to cheat this time. It seemed like Christina was building up to something with her banter, though Kenji wasn't sure. He knew she was an act and that made him uncomfortable because it reminded him that he was an act as well. Min Yun played better when she was angry it seemed and left both Kenji and Christina with more than half their hands remaining before she went out. She crushed them both with ease. She didn't have to cheat. There was no point. Part of the metagame of cheating in Tiến lên means that one shouldn't do it all the time lest they become predictable. Elaborate forms of cheating are more likely to be spotted which stopped the fleecing. One had to learn not only when to cheat, but when not to cheat and simply crush their opponents with a superior strategy. Or even lose in order to bait their opponents into betting wildly.

"Fast hand," remarked Christina.

Min Yun grunted. Kenji felt bemused. He was pretty sure now that this wasn't going to end in a bloodbath so long as no one did anything stupid. She was here for another reason, though tourist money is always welcome.

"How about something different for this hand?" she asked. "I have in my hot little hands a piece of information you'd enjoy, Kenji. Can that be my fee for the next game?"

"Is it pertinent to my friend?" he asked.

"Not the one in the room, no. One of your friends is dying though," said Christina, as if she was casually speaking of the weather.

"Not my friend. Money goes in the pot," said Min Yun, coldly.

Kenji looked to her, but caught her boot under the table while she stayed stone faced. He was her pack mate after all and she wouldn't abandon him. Kenji's friends got some of the benefit of a pack mate at least. Still, Min Yun read correctly that she wanted to give Kenji that data stick more than she wanted to keep hold of her money. He ran with it.

"I'm afraid my friend is right. I have no idea if the data on that stick is real and it would be unfair to make her accept something that was just for me," said Kenji, diplomatically.

"I see. I won't haggle then. 700 more it is," she said.

She sounded bored but imperfectly suppressed a small smile. Kenji wondered if he was supposed to see that or not. Probably the former. Then that was it. Kenji won the last hand and the data stick. It didn't seem like she was rattled at all by losing so much or if she'd done her homework, that she, a corporate princess was playing cards with Shadowrunners. Christina stood up from the table and nodded.

"Thanks for the game, Kenji," she said. "I must be going. Things to do and people to meet. I'm quite the busy bee."

She stood up and walked towards her bodyguards. Two flanked her on the way out while the one posted at the door was the last one out. Just like that Christina LeBlanc and her guards were gone.

"Friend of yours?" asked Min Yun, her tone droll.

"Worse. A classmate," sighed Kenji. "I need to look at this data stick which means I need to disable the wireless capability on one of my burners. Any chance you could sweep the room for any nastiest?"

"Kenji," Min Yun chided, "I'm a dog shaman. Sniffing things out is what I do. Besides, it's not every day I get to earn without going back into the basement. I miss you as team leader by the way."

Kenji couldn't help but smile. No one had ever actually missed him before. The fact that it was in a professional capacity didn't bother him much. She tugged off one of her gloves with her teeth and placed her hand on the ground. Without another word she began to find and procure any devices they left behind of which there were many. Kenji glanced at her butt when she bent over to look. Then she made a small, pleased noise when found an old school bug with no wireless capability at all. This took a few minutes as some were buried and two moved of their own. Those were two tiny electronic drones.

"Extra haul for me," she said, happily.

Kenji imagined his friend the dog shaman would have been wagging her tail if she had one. Meanwhile he disabled the wireless communicator on his disposable metalink commlink, the cheapest commlink on the market by yanking out the right pieces. Now satisfied he slotted in the data chip into it. There were two new files on it. He began to read them both.

Name: Octavia Hendricks
Age: 19
Height: 1.6 meters (five feet)
Weight: 29 kilograms (64 pounds)
Metatype: Human
Skin color: Dark brown
Eye color: Brown
Hair color: Black
Distinguishing features: Large dreadlocks
Other aliases: Illwind, Breezy, Octo
Current location: Ygritta's Place. Hospice. Seattle Metroplex


"Wait, Octo?" Kenji asked himself.

He checked for more and found a number of email chains concerning her well being. The prognosis wasn't good. She'd contracted a particularly nasty strain of...

"What is MRSAAV?" asked Kenji.

Min Yun just shrugged. He grumbled as he accessed his second burner to look everything up. It turned out that she had a staph infection. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus awakened variant. Just like with anti-biotics an improper use of magic on certain infections just breeds awakened versions of them. Anything living could be awakened after all. People, animals, plants and so she'd found a version that was not only a nasty staph infection to begin with, but it was awakened and resisted even magical treatment. She'd either caught it from someone or tried to have it cured but the bacteria had resisted an incorrectly cast spell over and over again. Not everyone could catch it, but those who had weak constitutions or were just unlucky could catch it as it had about a 10% transmission rate. He found two numbers at the bottom of the chain and a message from Christina.

Octo: 1-555-757-9232-531

Christina: 1-555-605-4731-671

"We should do lunch and talk about your friend's predicament. That is if you care. I'm curious to see if you do or not. Don't dawdle, she has a week at the most. I have a solution. Call me. Kisses, Christina."

CYOA Time

If the data stick is to be believed it seems like Octo is dying from an incredibly drug and magic resistant strain of MRSA. We don't get to read her to see if she's told the truth or not because she's not here. We have no idea if it's a trick, a trap or the truth. If it is the truth though Octo dies and we permanently lose her (yes her) as a contact due to her death.

Cards are being played with 7 (9 home ground ACHE, which means he's great at cheating) dice for Kenji, 9 dice for Min Yun and 8 dice for Christina. Christina is at a -3 disadvantage due to not only not knowing the rules, but being told the rules incorrectly due to Min Yun's critical on con.

Kenji wins the first round with 3 hits.

Christina is about to win round two when Kenji tries to play out of turn, but rolls a glitch with three net hits. He spends one of his edge to make it a normal 3 hits and wins the game.

Min Yun criticals with six net hits and takes home even more.

Round three goes to Min Yun. She doesn't have to cheat.

However on the fourth round Christina does not throw in more money, but a data stick meant for Kenji. She rolls intimidation to rattle him. Not even a single hit on ten dice. Kenji will believe it when he sees it. After some negotiation she throws in some more money anyway along with the data stick.

Kenji wins the last game and the data stick. Both he and Min Yun are 1400 nuyen richer and Min Yun is going to see about fencing the bugs that were left. Christina departs back into the ACHE and out.

Ice Phisherman fucked around with this message at Oct 29, 2017 around 00:17

Esper
Nov 23, 2004
Killed a baboon, once.

Just discovered/caught up on this over the past two days. It's the first entry into the Shadowrun world for me. I love it and want to learn more - thanks for both introducing me to the setting as well as your great writing. The story is fantastic.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

Ice Phisherman posted:

Height: 1.6 meters (five feet)
Weight: 29 kilograms (64 pounds)

How is that possible? She's life-threatenly under weight.


Call Octo and see if this is legit. If it is, tell her about a possible way to save her life, and get her take on it; see if Octo has any idea how she was outed by Christina.

Esper posted:

Just discovered/caught up on this over the past two days.

jagadaishio
Jun 25, 2013

I don't care if it's ethical; I want a Mammoth Steak.


CourValant posted:

How is that possible? She's life-threatenly under weight.

She might have had limbs amputated. We don't know what kind of necrosis might have set in as the infection progressed.

Anyway, yes, definitely contact Octo. If she's got a week left her secret identity getting revealed should take a back seat to saving her life. She can run down leads on his this happened after she's well.

On a personal level, helping save a friend will make Kenji satisfied. On a more Kenji level, a life debt is a serious kind of favor owed.

Xarbala
Feb 13, 2011

Rolling Thunder: War to the Knife, Knife to the Hilt

Why? , that's why.

Aw poo poo.

Trap or not, Kenji should try to get into contact with Octo. I'm reasonably sure she's not going to be available, but at the very least due diligence is in order. Best case scenario, Christina is going to use this to try to put Kenji under her thumb. Worst case scenario... well, burning Edge is a thing.

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?







CourValant posted:

How is that possible? She's life-threatenly under weight.
Well, she is literally about to die. Possibly had to have some amputations, definitely gonna be totally knocked to poo poo by the SuperBug.

Alright, we'll bite. Octo's good people, and as much as I hate to play Christina's game we kinda have to. Although obviously do our due diligence to make sure this is real before going any farther.

I'm also mildly disappointed that Octo's not a literal uplifted octopus

HiHo ChiRho
Oct 23, 2010

Then you remember. You have a message to send.

Something everyone must know.

You have the power. You have the means.

Let it be known.




Yay one of my predictions came true.

HiHo ChiRho posted:

What makes you so sure Octo is a he?

Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"

Well, just finished binge reading this one. Hotdamn, it is hella intriguing. I'm also somewhat glad that we switched protagonists. Much as I like Fuzzy, we ended up with her in a good place.

One thing I might like to see is her remembering where she came from and visiting Rat Man, letting him know she's doing fine.

jagadaishio
Jun 25, 2013

I don't care if it's ethical; I want a Mammoth Steak.


Shogeton posted:

Well, just finished binge reading this one. Hotdamn, it is hella intriguing. I'm also somewhat glad that we switched protagonists. Much as I like Fuzzy, we ended up with her in a good place.

One thing I might like to see is her remembering where she came from and visiting Rat Man, letting him know she's doing fine.

Yeah, definitely overdue for It's a Very Ratman Oliver Family Dinner.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

jagadaishio posted:

Yeah, definitely overdue for It's a Very Ratman Oliver Family Dinner.

Plot twist. Its in the Barrens.

Shogeton
Apr 26, 2007

"Little by little the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him"

Look, does the Oliver family not realize they can give Ares a PRIME new contact, a go getter up and comer in the arms trade. Ratman has been a great boon in weapon sales to Fuzzy for all her life, and his goods never let her down. I'm just saying maybe the police department could do with some Ratman brand armour from patented Devil Rat leather?

jagadaishio
Jun 25, 2013

I don't care if it's ethical; I want a Mammoth Steak.


Forget weapons and armor - what a talent scout he is!

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


CourValant posted:

How is that possible? She's life-threatenly under weight.

Yes she is and we'll learn why once we meet her.

jagadaishio posted:

Yeah, definitely overdue for It's a Very Ratman Oliver Family Dinner.

I'll see if I can make this happen, or at least something like it. In a way Rat Man is Fuzzy's "mom" as someone put it. I can see Sasha at least wanting to meet him.

Shogeton posted:

Well, just finished binge reading this one. Hotdamn, it is hella intriguing. I'm also somewhat glad that we switched protagonists. Much as I like Fuzzy, we ended up with her in a good place.

One thing I might like to see is her remembering where she came from and visiting Rat Man, letting him know she's doing fine.

Glad you enjoy it!

Ironically I don't imagine she'd have Rat Man's commlink number. She'd just know where to go. However Julian does have his number.

Esper posted:

Just discovered/caught up on this over the past two days. It's the first entry into the Shadowrun world for me. I love it and want to learn more - thanks for both introducing me to the setting as well as your great writing. The story is fantastic.

Thanks for your attention. I'm glad you're enjoying my story. So now you too can vote on what we do next if you're interested.

Shadowrun has a soft spot in my heart. It's about class and race and how scary the future is while simultaneously being full of the kind of dumb I love. There is a lot (and I mean a lot) from the supplemental books that I flat out ignore, but that's why they're optional. I feel like the core book is everything you need to play, and that if you're interest lies somewhere in another book you get that too.

jagadaishio
Jun 25, 2013

I don't care if it's ethical; I want a Mammoth Steak.


Ice Phisherman posted:

In a way Rat Man is Fuzzy's "mom" as someone put it.

Guilty.

Also, using Julian to get back in contact with Rat Man is probably a good angle for patching the bridge between them, if not repairing it.

CourValant
Feb 25, 2016

Do You Remember Love?

jagadaishio posted:

Also, using Julian to get back in contact with Rat Man is probably a good angle for patching the bridge between them, if not repairing it.

Huh? Did we leave things awkward between Fuzzy and Ratman? I thought the last time they spoke was during the first Fuzzy post, when Julian recruited her?

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?







Yeah I'm pretty sure we can just, like, go to the same place he's been for the past decade and stand a good chance of finding him. No need to get Julian involved or anything.

sheep-dodger
Feb 21, 2013



CourValant posted:

Huh? Did we leave things awkward between Fuzzy and Ratman? I thought the last time they spoke was during the first Fuzzy post, when Julian recruited her?

The bridge between Julian and Fuzzy presumably.
But yes, we don't need no comlink, we can just go where we always go to meet him.

jagadaishio
Jun 25, 2013

I don't care if it's ethical; I want a Mammoth Steak.


Wait, for real? You think Fuzzy would want to go back, like, ever? Or that it would be safe there for her without being targeted for things like having a haircut or clean clothes? Even if he skills are still sharp, Fuzzy doesn't have the Barrens look anymore.

And yes, the bridge between Fuzzy and Julian. It would give them a chance to interact with each other in a way that has nothing to do with her good Samaritan work/his confiscation of her weapons.

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?







Yeah, she would be willing to go back for something like seeing Rat Man. We still just kinda hack our hair short with a knife and wear rat leather everything, it's been all of 3-4 months. We haven't changed that much, I'd even say that the Barrens are still "home". gently caress Julian, why get him involved in our personal business when all he's ever done is gently caress up everything he touches with regards to our personal life? gently caress. Him. He wants to kiss and make up? He can drat well make the first move.

I, the real life human on the computer, actually rather like the guy and can see where he's coming from even if he's a total dumbass, but Fuzzy isn't really feeling it imo

Crazycryodude fucked around with this message at Oct 29, 2017 around 19:05

Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


All right. It looks like Fuzzy and Sasha take the booklet rather seriously.

It also seems like Kenji is going to be heading to help Octo despite Christina trying for some sort of angle.

Writing now.

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Ice Phisherman
Apr 12, 2007

"Who the hell is
Bill Clinton?"


Kenji and Min Yun - December 25th 2074 – Afternoon - The ACHE

"Min Yun, I need to make a call. Can you check to see if there are any enemies in the area?" asked Kenji.

Min Yun shook her head.

"Just because there's a truce on doesn't mean we're not surrounded by enemies," she said. "I can tell you right now that I'd see hundreds. The ACHE is too dense with people for me to pinpoint any one particular particular person. Magic is good. Sometimes it's even better than tech, but it still has limitations. Also that girl that came by? I consider you pack, but she may not consider me an enemy. People like her think of people like me as beneath them often enough. If that's the case I wouldn't see her. Detection spells aren't perfect."

Kenji rubbed his temples.

"Okay, thanks for your help in any case," he said. "Split our earnings fairly and I take a small cut from the bugs?"

"Why? I found them," she said.

"Yeah, but she wouldn't have left them here if not for me. Also I have this strange feeling that if I'm right about Octo I'm going to need some nuyen to help bail her out," said Kenji.

"All right. You'll take 10%," she said.

"I'll take 20% and remind you that if you were in trouble I'd burn down my bank account to keep you alive," countered Kenji, hotly.

Min Yun paused, turned squarely to look at him and tilted her head ever so slightly. She was a dog shaman after all. She'd inherited a few quirks. Then to Kenji's surprise the older woman he had a crush on blushed a bit which sent his own thoughts spinning.

"You really mean that, don't you?" she asked.

"Uh...Yeah. Yeah I do," said Kenji, suddenly flustered.

She looked him up and down, as if taking him in for the first time.

"I'd call almost anyone else an idiot for what you just said, but unlike family you get to choose your pack. Thanks for reminding me why I continue to run with you," she said, and grinned big and broad. "Don't get too wrapped up in that kind of thinking though. It's wasted on most runners. It'll get you killed."

"Plus I can get you a better deal from Seymour," said Kenji, as he pushed forward.

"Plus you can get a better deal from Seymour," echoed Min Yun. "I'm surprised our pudgy little fence doesn't ban you."

"Maybe someday. Even he's admitted I bring him pretty great stuff though," said Kenji.

Kenji - December 25th 2074 – Late Afternoon - In transit to Ygritta's Place

Kenji found himself an extra 180 nuyen richer along with the 1400 he'd won from cards. He ordered a taxi, turned on his main commlink, a mid end version, not one of those burners he had and called up Octo while he waited. It rang three times before Octo picked up. He saw Octo's Octopus avatar appear in augmented reality in front of him with its keyboard looking cyberdeck with the blue lights glowing through the keys. He heard tapping of keys in the background and the Octopus mimicked it.

"Oh hey, Kenji," said Octo. "What's up?"

Despite the filters over her voice, he noticed that she sounded tired. Her voice? Yeah that's going to take some getting used to.

"Oh, you know, hadn't talked to you in a while. I thought I'd catch up," he said.

"Yeah? All right, cool, cool. I was actually meaning to call you," she said. "I'm about to go off grid for a while. You saved me the trouble."

"You? Off the grid? Really?" asked Kenji incredulously.

"Yeah, well, I might have brought some heat down on me. You know, bit off more than I can chew? We octopi can be greedy on occasion," quipped Octo.

"What sort of heat?" asked Kenji.

His taxi arrived. There was no one in it of course. Most taxis were slaved to a drone rigger after all. A good one could control ten with the right programming.

"Please state your destination," said a woman's pleasant but tinny voice through a speaker.

"Ygritta's Place. It's a hospice," he said.

"Searching," said the voice.

"Umm...Kenji?" asked Octo, nervously. "Why...Uh...Why are you going to a hospice?"

"Found, Ygritta's Place," said the voice. "Please insert funds to begin."

Kenji slotted his credstick. That pulled up a map. It would take twenty-five minutes. Ouch. There went a good portion of that drone money. It was near the far eastern end of Bellevue. He buckled up and waited for Octo to speak again.

"You um...Got business there?" Octo asked, oh so casually.

"I think so. I heard someone is dying. A nasty case of...What was it called? MRSAAV?"

Octo was silent for a time. He just watched her augmented reality octopus avatar tap its keys.

"Kenji, you're sweet for wanting to help, but I'd really rather die in peace," she whispered. "I paid for this fancy place to spend my days in. Trying to do something before I...Before I die. Something big. Do you think you could just...Let it happen?"

"No," said Kenji, simply.

"Kenji, we're just coworkers. I mean you're cool and all, but you don't owe me anything. I've talked to a lot of doctors and they told me I'm not getting out of here without a miracle. I don't need any more hope. Just go home. Please?" she asked, almost begged.

"I don't think so," said Kenji. "After all, I'm already in the cab."

"I'll crash it," she said, bitterly.

"You're going to crash the cab of the person who's coming to see you?" he asked.

"I don't want you to see me like this," she said, angrily. "Or at all. Privacy please!"

Kenji was almost positive that she'd say or do anything to keep him away, and that she was about to end the call. He decided to take a risk. Deckers are usually private as private can be about their identities. He thought he'd shock her to keep her from that near commlink click.

"No Octavia Hendricks, you will not," said Kenji. "I am coming to see you. You're just going to have to deal with it."

She didn't close her commlink down. In fact it got the opposite effect from her. She began to scream at him.

"What the? gently caress you! You don't get to use that on me! You're not better than me! What, did you talk to some other hacker?! I got rules! You don't work with anyone else but me! I'll find them and melt their loving brain if I have to die trying! I'll..."

What else she was going to do was lost in a series of wet, hacking coughs. She began to gasp and gurgle before he heard her be loudly sick on her end of the line. It seemed her filters weren't perfect. Kenji sent the drone rigger that was remotely operating this taxi a text.

"A full 100 in it if you get me there sooner," he texted. "Much sooner."

The line stayed open as he listened to her be violently ill. The cab sped up and began to push what was legal to its limits and beyond. He was ten minutes out and cruising along the highway before she spoke again.

"Why do you ever care?" she asked, her voice hoarse even through the voice filter.

Kenji thought about it.

"I'm not going to let you die so long as I can do something about it, and I think I can. Otherwise I'd just let you die in peace. I have options you probably don't. Trust your fixer," he said.

She laughed harshly. Again he could hear that fluid in her lungs.

"You've been a fixer for what...Two months? A part time one too. Go home, Kenji," she said, dismissively.

"Nah. Too committed. I even paid the driver to get me there faster," said Kenji.

"Fine. Whatever. If you want to see me then you take a good long look. Then go home and leave me alone," said Octo, bitterly.

Octo hung up on him.

Kenji and Octo - December 25th 2074 – Late Afternoon - Bellevue, Ygritta's Place

The hospice looked like it was where the rich and famous went to die. Its courtyard was massive. There was plenty of green on the ground and though it was normally too cold for flowers these ones looked real. Probably some lab grown cold weather variant. The building looked to be three stories tall, perfectly white despite the occasional bath of acid rain it would receive and its windows were tinted. Inside of that building all of its hues were soft and light. The nurses wore pale pink and only the customers wore black. People sat here in the lobbies and it was only when one of them sniffed that Kenji realized what he'd done. He'd left immediately without changing clothes. He smelled of burnt trash. He pondered for a moment, walked back out and found a vending machine. Not one for food and drink. No, this one was for clothing. People were used to sets of disposable clothing for certain occasions. He couldn't wash, but he could put on a new set of clothing. It was meant for visitors who didn't have nice clothes. So he splurged for a set of clothes that would disintegrate under a hot shower and a few squirts of cologne contained in a biodegradable plastic. After a trip to the restroom across the street in a chain restaurant he emerged with black slacks and a cream colored button up and smelled slightly less of trash and more of cologne. Then on a whim he bought two more. Better to smell like he was drenched in the stuff otherwise they might just kick him out. He walked back into the hospice.

"Excuse me. I'm here to see Octavia Hendricks," said Kenji.

He spoke to someone behind a desk. She wore an understated smile, almost kind and most definitely practiced. She almost even had him fooled. Almost.

"I see. Friend or family?" she asked.

"You could say coworker," said Kenji.

"Very well. Name please," she requested.

"I'm Kenji Okamura."

"Well...Let me see if you're on the list," said the woman.

Her eyes went out of focus as she checked an augmented reality overlay with her glasses. She frowned slightly at the end and did her best to look apologetic.

"I'm sorry sir, but you're not on the list," she said, sympathetically. "It's quite late and visiting hours are nearly over. Perhaps you could return tomorrow?"

"Could you call her please? It's possible that I may have access to something that could save her life," said Kenji, smoothly.

"I'm sorry sir, but..."

Kenji cleared his voice and used his magic. He didn't have time to argue or get caught sneaking in. He leaned in and whispered a command to her.

"Put me on the list."

She straightened in her chair and did as commanded. Just like that Kenji knew he was on the list.

"What? Why did...Why did I?" she asked herself, confused.

"Forget the last two minutes," commanded Kenji again.

His power had diminishing returns. He could only use it on someone so many times before they'd grow numb to his commands. Two was his normal limit before people really had a chance at resistance.

"Ma'am?" he asked, politely, as if he had not just messed with her head. "The list please?"

"Umm...What?"

"I'm here to visit Octavia Hendricks. I should be on the list," said Kenji.

"Oh...Um...Okay," she said, confused. "Your name...Please?"

"Kenji Okamura," he said.

"Right. Seems like you're on the list," she said. "You're family?"

"No. Am I listed as family?"

"Yes. It must be some sort of mistake. I'll correct it," she said.

She slid him a visitor's pass.

"Which room?" he asked.

"Uhh...What? Oh. Room 319. Third floor, turn left and it's on your left hand side," she said, now more sure of herself.

Kenji and Octo - December 25th 2074 – Ygritta's Place, Room 319

"You really brain fuckled her," snapped Octo. "Don't think you can pull that poo poo on me."

He sat down next to her as she lay on the bed. There was some sort of gossamer looking curtain between him and her, but saw her he did. Her cheeks were stark, her brown eyes somewhat sunken, her neck thin, her dark skin somewhat ashen, her arms almost stick like which made her hands look too big. Even her hair, all braided into thick looking dreadlocks was looking rather awful at the roots.

"I see you looking at me," she said, angrily. "What? Want to gently caress or something? You've got a skeleton fetish?"

"Not really, no. Besides, I thought octupi were invertebrates," joked Kenji.

"Okay, if you're not here to gently caress I'm not sure what you want," she complained. "I'm a biohazard. drat near nuclear. Looks like when you treat your body like I do you get all sorts of nasties inside of you."

"I thought that MRSAAV was what brought you here," he said.

He spied the controller near one of her hands and sure enough it was attached to the Gamepal he'd given her a few months back. She noticed him looking at it.

"Yeah, thanks I guess. Doesn't make up for what you did though," she grumped. "Anyway, yeah it did, but sometimes I just forget to eat, you know? Too much time in the matrix. The world sucks and doesn't make sense, but at least in the matrix it doesn't make sense in a way that I understand. Catch a cold, eat myself healthy and get right back in. That was my normal until about six months ago."

Kenji sighed.

"I told you. I think I've got an angle on a cure," he said.

She furrowed her brow at him.

"I've been to a shitload of doctors, wizards, shamans and all sorts of god botherers. I can reduce this, but I can't make it go away and it just comes back faster every time I do. So I'm weak, and I get MRSAAV and pneumonia too because someone up there thinks I'm not suffering enough. Everything that can cure me is either too expensive or too risky. I cleaned myself out to get here. Now you're dangling hope over my head again. Look Kenji, you're cute and all, but unless you're here to help me feel good I've got work to do. I'd take a pity gently caress if you're down, but don't waste my time with this hope garbage."

Kenji ignored her attempts to rile or distract him. He stayed on target.

"What kind of work?" he asked, genuinely curious.

That wrung a small smile out of those thin, cracked lips of hers.

"Looking for a way out," she said, simply.

"Out of what?"

"Out of this drat body," she snapped, good mood gone as fast as it appeared. "Meatspace sucks. I'm all about that cyberspace. I'm trying to go digital. gently caress food, disease, poverty, all that poo poo. I won't need any of that poo poo if I'm code."

Kenji looked again at her. Cyberdecks were amazingly expensive and maybe she had it tucked away somewhere for safe keeping while he was here.

"Where's your deck?" he asked.

She snorted and rolled those sunken eyes of hers.

"Fine, it's not like I can get any deader. I don't use one. I'm a technomancer. You know, matrix wizards and poo poo? It's not like the trid movies show you. I just don't need a cyberdeck is all. That's just my brain. I've heard my kind can go digital because we're closer than anyone is already. Just rumors, but I'm tired of this body. I want to move on."

"Wow," was all Kenji could say.

Awakened shamans, magicians, mystic adepts and adepts were rare. About one in a hundred. Technomancers though? Far rarer, and most of them were young as they were a fairly new phenomena. That also meant that they were also the targets for kidnapping for work or as medical subjects. Octo reveled in that attention for a few seconds.

"Yeah, I'm pretty cool," she said, flippantly. "I'm all about that matrix, but meatspace really isn't all about me. Anyway, what's your pitch? I'll listen to what you got because you probably won't leave until I do. Amuse me, but don't waste my time please."

"Think you can tone down the snark for a minute?" asked Kenji.

"No Kenji, I really loving can't. You invaded my privacy, keep me from going code and used another decker and broke your promise. I thought you were all about your promises, hmm? That you don't lie, hmm? Or is my brain going too? Going to try and convince me of that?" she grumped.

"Actually someone wants something from me. I call her and I assume she makes this all go away," he said. "I didn't know who you were until about an hour ago. No broken promises on my side. Promise."

"Sounds like you're getting played," she said.

"Yeah, but I had another idea," he said.

"You were never short of those," she sighed. "Fine, what is it?"

"You remember that school I go to?" he asked.

"I told you. I already did that. All sorts of spells. People waving chickens over me and poo poo. Just felt better for a few days," she said. "It always comes back."

"No. Not just one person. It could be something bigger. Much bigger. Real ritual magic. I'm not a shaman, but I know my fair share," he said.

Octo paused thoughtfully.

"drat it...There's that hope again," she groused softly. "Kenji, please tell me you're not just messing with me. Besides, I don't have that sort of scratch. I'm broke. All I've got left is the Gamepal you gave me. I sold everything else. I wanted to either die or stick myself in the matrix permanently."

"You can really do that?" asked Kenji. "Go there permanently?"

"Not sure. Maybe. I can think of worse afterlives. At least mine is full of porn and cute pictures of cats."

There was a moment of tension in the air before it finally broke. Kenji and Octo couldn't help but laugh, and though it sent her into a series of wet coughs she couldn't keep the smile off her face.

"Do what you have to do, but do it quick. I'm checking out one way or another," she said. "For what it's worth...Thanks."

CYOA Time

This is going to take a bit. The choices are to go with Christina's option with an easy solution and take some unknown consequences or try to juggle how expensive setting up a ritual is.

Octo has agreed to be healed. However there are two obvious choices.

1. Hear out Christina and go with her option.

2. Get a ritual going. Regular magic won't purge her disease. She's too far along and her strain is too resistant to normal casting. She needs ritual healing which means cramming as many awakened casters in the same room as possible. What we've been doing before was casting with the aid of another. Two won't cut it. More than two mean a ritual and the more that show up the more likely she is to survive.

Marco and Mother Bear will know the correct ritual and can lead, and others won't have to know it, but just pour in energy. We're also going to need to cast at at least a force five to fully cleanse Octo, and it'll cut into Kenji's money. At least a few thousand. Anyone under force four will take physical drain from the ritual at the end of it, and it's flat out going to injure them, and can even kill them if they're incredibly unlucky. We can still ask Sasha anyway. That would lock out the teachers, but make Min Yun's appearance less awkward.

Kenji can also hire out for help. He'd have to work his contacts though. A magic four caster is the equivalent of someone who's learned quite a lot on the street, has amazing innate talent or someone who is in their sophomore year of college.

The number to meet or beat is four hits, but they also have the net hits from the spell's force times two (in this case eight dice), so Kenji needs a lot of people showing up. So if we get four hits total but the spell gets two, the spell goes off, but doesn't cleanse Octo and it would need to be recast, and this takes hours to complete.

Current number of possible awakened shamans who can show up are as follows:

1. Leader: Marco or Mother Bear. Either one of these people are 100% necessary.
2. Participants: Marco or Mother Bear, Min Yun, Julian, Fuzzy (if we call her back from California), Julie and anyone we pay for.

Kenji cannot participate in rituals as he can't cast spells. He's an adept, so all he can do is try and put this together.

The more the better chances of Octo's survival, but there are going to be personality conflicts. We can either go ahead and suck it up or lessen our chances of Octo's survival by not inviting Kenji's runner pal, Min Yun. This is the "run" for the Christmas arc if we choose to do it.

Dice rolls

First thing's first, Kenji negotiates with Min Yun for a small cut of the electronic bugs and drones. He gets 20%, but he's going to be the one to fence it since he's better than her at that. He gets 900 nuyen for the lot and takes home 180 extra for his trouble. The rest goes to Min Yun.

Kenji calls up Octo. He's been told that she's dying and without wasting too much time he gets to the point. Octo tries lying but only scores 2 net hits on 8 dice. Kenji on the other hand has 13 dice in judge intentions and he gets 4 hits. So he knows something is wrong. Now it's social combat time.

Her loyalty dice of 2 and his good reputation of 5-1 (discounting his notoriety) for a total of 18 dice. If we'd been unsuccessful on his two runs, got more people killed or just acted like a bastard and people caught wind of it this would be a harder roll. Having street cred doesn't exactly mean you're a nice person. In his case it means that he acts like a professional. She on the other hand has a charisma of 6, general social skills of 2 (she has a specialty in matrix chat but Kenji really isn't into matrix culture) and wants to be left alone which means another 2 as a circumstance bonus.

Kenji gets 6 hits and she gets 1. She doesn't immediately hang up. Kenji, for his own reasons which are still unclear even to him seems to care about her. Now to convince her to see him. Another etiquette v etiquette roll. 7 net hits for him versus her 4. So Kenji goes to a hospice on Christmas day.

Octo's infection wasn't what was initially killing her. She has a severe matrix addiction. Not enough to burn out yet, but close. Really close. In fact if she survives that's probably going to be next on the agenda if we want to keep her from burning out and taking essence damage. She has a strength and body of one, the lowest of the low and is incredibly sick because of it. She's already petite, but she hasn't been taking care of herself at all. Her addiction is threatening her life and it weakened her immune system. She developed a nasty strain of MRSAAV because not only is she weak, but she's compromised from being so weak and not taking care of herself for so long.

She actually could've defeated the infection early on, but she still didn't take care of herself and absolutely refused to get any cyberware or bioware inside of her which could have fixed the problem. The lack of a cyberdeck as well and her age draws him to a single conclusion. She's a technomancer, a person who can access the matrix merely by thinking about it and it's theorized that the technomancers are creations of Deus because their predecessors, called the Otaku, had their same exact powers. The fact that he even knows this is dangerous to her. Corporations and government entities really want to get hold of technomancers as they're rare.

Here's the big one. He wants to save her life. 11 hits on 18 dice, not a critical because I had to use edge for Kenji, but that comes down to 8 because he has limits on how many hits he can get at once. She gets 3 on 8 dice. If she critted she would've refused and he'd either have to let her die or heal her against her will. She wants to live even if life is horrible in the real world.

Ice Phisherman fucked around with this message at Oct 30, 2017 around 03:07

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