Date: 5th October, 2177 [will this day never end?]
Mood: Disappointed. Does our hacker really have to be this incompetent?
Outfit: Today I wore my maid outfit, because we were torturing this Rice dude and Pops wanted me to get coffees. I don’t know why this hunk of existentially doomed meat needs coffee, but Pops had his Earnest Conversation face on, so I had to be the coffee wench. I figured if you’re going to do it you should do it properly, but apparently Rice gets all freaked out being served coffee by a girl in a maid outfit who wants to cut his fingers off. And he thinks he has it tough! Now I’m gonna have to flee across town in my maid’s outfit, and everyone is going to think I escaped from a love hotel with a man twice my age, which is like gross.
News: There is no news. We are in deep trouble is all that matters.
So in between killing people I’ve been reading some more of the Dialectical Ephemeralism that Lima was into before we iced him. They have this bunch of crazy visionaries who have all these sayings about life and love and killing people, because they seem to care about a bunch of unimportant stuff like passion and politics, not just the big things like killing people and fashion. One of them, this chick called the Falcon, was mostly responsible for some sort of military tactics that combined guerilla warfare and mobile hacking teams, and it looks like she laid some of the theoretical groundwork for the transsubstantiation shtick that Lima and his hyper-incestuous family got their kicks from. After one particularly nasty fubar in the Andes she had this to say about the difference between machine life and reality:
The difference between virtuality and life is very simple. In a construct you know everything is being run by an all-powerful machine. Reality doesn’t offer this assurance, so it’s very easy to develop the mistaken impression that you’re in control.
Until today I never really understood why people listen to the ranting of crazy visionaries, but today I got it a bit, because this Falcon chick was completely right about getting the idea you’re in control when you’re not. Case in point: everything that went wrong today.
We raided this rundown apartment block in Little Boston looking for this dumb hacker called Rice for reasons I don’t really understand or care about, but which Pops thinks are worth killing people for (so probably not very important). That raid went completely south because there was a riot going on and Americans are so stupid that when they see a heavily armed team of wet-workers come to ice a dude they think running into the gunfire is a good way to get rich. Once the smoke and nunchakus cleared we found out Rice had managed to do a runner in an AV because our hacker got ambushed by some homeless guys who stole his gun. We all had, as the Falcon would say, the mistaken idea we were in control, and didn’t employ bodyguards for our van, and in the chaos Rice got away.
But our hacker isn’t stupid so he managed to get a fix on that AV, and we chased them across town. Unfortunately they dropped out of sight and we lost them, but Coyote guessed they were heading for the docks so we ran a shortcut down there and managed to find at least roughly the area where we thought they might have gone to ground. There was this huge area of slums and ruined houses clustered around some kind of monster building the size of a city, and all these shacks and shanties clustered everywhere we could see. We tried asking the natives about the AV but nobody was talking, because maybe they think we look scary in full body armour or something, so after a bit we gave up. Then Ghost remembered he had had a run in with some goldfish hunters down here, and maybe they could help him. He put in the call and after a bit they rocked up, pretty casual and all happy to see us. When we explained the situation they agreed to help, and after a bit of asking around they found out that our target had gone inside that huge building, which is like a beehive if a beehive were made out of interlocking multi-storey carparks. We took our AV in and demounted, leaving Tail to run the AV in a holding pattern while we went looking for our kill. The goldfish hunters asked around a bit and we found out that the AV belonged to a small mercenary corp that based itself at the bottom of the beehive, and everyone told us they were nasty and not to be messed with. But Rice had left them behind and gone up to the top of the beehive with a couple of guards, and we thought maybe he had hired some mercs to help him out. That meant if we avoided the mercenary base and just went to get him we’d probably not piss them off too much, provided their relationship with Rice was purely business. What could go wrong?
It was dark in there and there were more people living in jumbled-up wreckage down here, and they were also scared of us and moved out of our way when we passed them. Pretty soon everywhere we went was deserted before we got there, but I guess no one knew what we were looking for because when we got to the top of the beehive to where we thought Rice was hiding out we found that he didn’t know we were coming. There was this kind of murky stairwell with spiral stairs leading up to a couple of apartments that we thought he was in, so up we went. Pops and Coyote took point, and I hung back one spiral down on the stairs to give them cover as they went. Just as well I did…
Unfortunately the steps halfway up were booby-trapped, and Pops’s eyes are too old and blind to notice something like that so he triggered it. A whole section of stairs fell apart and down he went, landing on the stairs one level down right next to me with one of his grand-daddy grunts like the ones he makes when he has to plug the tv cord in because it “accidentally” came out while he was watching one of his boring news shows. Only louder, I guess, and kind of angrier. Pops’s Angry Voice is like da Vinci’s paint palette or something, when you first discover him it’s all sepia shades of tasteful and subtle anger but then once you know him a bit better and start exploring his work you discover that he has this lurid technicolor range that he’s quite capable of painting the ceiling with. And at this point he hit the brighter tones of red from that palette. As he was cursing and pulling his cyberleg out of the woodwork and trying to remember not to swear in front of a girl and then telling me not to repeat these words he was using even though he knows I spent years in hit squads with a Scottish munitions expert who had forgotten every civilized word in more languages than Pops has ever learnt this little squad of goons came to the top of the stairwell and started shooting at Coyote and Ghost so I had to kill them. So then battle was joined, as the Falcon would say, and we started working our way up the stairwell with me shooting carefully at anyone who popped their heads over the balcony and Pops yelling and inventing new ways of being a grumpy old man and Coyote getting shotgun pellets in the face. Eventually we got to the bit where the stairs end and the balcony starts, and we were crouched there looking at a couple of groaning dying mercs and getting ready to blast our way over the top when this dude hiding behind an indestructible concrete column yells “Wait!”
So we wait and suddenly Pops isn’t grumpy anymore and is ready to be reasonable and says “What?” in his best Friendly Officer Voice. And this dude grunts and then slings a body out from behind the column and says “you can have this guy if you leave us alone and go away,” which is like the most reasonable thing I have heard anyone say in weeks (except maybe last week when Ghost finally agreed to lower the seat on the shared toilet after he uses it, after I told him I’d shoot off the only limb he has never used if he kept leaving it up, which Pops told me was unreasonable! But this is no time for venting about Pops’s poor negotiation skills and Ghost’s bad hygiene habits). So then we get into this little negotiation thing, where the dude reveals he has a grenade launcher with every chamber full (wow!) and then Pops has to go forward and get that body and we don’t know if it’s actually the dude we’re looking for but we’re all frankly sick of this scene so it’s time to move on and then Coyote makes everything extra tense by asking the dude if he’s willing to sell the grenade launcher which is like a Charlton Heston question, “my cold dead hands” Coyote, “my cold dead hands” and then we start backing away down the stairs under the watchful eye of that grenade launcher, dragging the Man Who Would be Rice with us.
Which is where I had to put on my maid outfit. We got out okay, paid off the goldfish hunters with a bit of nuyen by way of thanks, and got our AV out of their as fast as we could. Once we got back to our base we tied Rice up in one of our rooms, and woke him up, and then Pops put on his Insane-but-Reasonable Voice and started asking Rice simple questions. The first of which was “would you like some coffee?” and so then I had to make coffees because apparently I’m not very good at asking people questions and Rice kept losing his equilibrium when I asked chirpy questions about how we were going to kill him. Which is apparently even more disturbing if you’re wearing a maid outfit when you ask. Boys are so wimpy! Anyway we came to an agreement and Rice told us everything we wanted to know and agreed to do everything we told him to do if we didn’t kill him, so today was really turning into like the Annual Festival of Reasonable People or something.
So Rice told us he used to work for this dude called Blacklist but now he’s all into moonlighting for this religious nut-job called Blue, who runs the church of the children of Exalta or something down in the Docks and has started attracting some of Blacklist’s better and less reliable cadres because of ghostchalk and money. Blue is dealing ghost chalk on Blacklist’s turf which is messing stuff up in the social order, and Blacklist wants Blue taken down because of this and other things. In exchange for this Blacklist might be able to make us some fake IDs to get topside, which we need because we need to start killing cyber psychiatrists. So Rice told us all about Blue’s defenses and hideout, and in exchange for not dying horribly (or at all!) he agreed to help us set up a trap for Blue, though he said it would take a few days to be sure Blue thought Rice was still on the run and in hiding and not suspicious. So we agreed to keep Rice for a few days and then set up a meeting.
And this is where everything went wrong. All flushed with our success we decided to start investigating the link to Alt and the cyber-psychiatrists. We have to liberate some dude called Hog from a top security cyber-psycho facility because he might know something about where Alt’s lost crazy sister is hiding or something, but to get to him we need to trace his records. He was being seen by some small-scale psychiatrist for a while, so we decided to get Ghost to hack that psychiatrist and get some records and information about Hog. Unfortunately, Ghost completely messed up the hack. He got the info we wanted, but then he tripped the security systems of the company, and managed to get traced back to our hideout for bonus points. Now we have a Goliath security team coming down on us, and we’re all in our base surrounded by a captive hacker and a bunch of illegal weapons … and I’m in my maid outfit.
I guess that Falcon chick was right about things going wrong if you get the mistaken idea you’re in control. Now we have to run or fight or find some trick to get out of trouble with New Horizon’s biggest security company. I hope that we don’t get to test out another one of the Falcon’s sayings before I can finish this diary:
When they ask how I died, tell them: still angry.
I guess we’ll find out in a few minutes …