Date: 12th November 2177
Weather: Rainy. Really rainy!
Mood: Bloodthirsty. Beating corrupt scientists to death with power-armoured gloves is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done, and everyone was really happy to know what we freed those people from. But I am still on a high, replaying those final moments in my head. I always thought principles were for Important People who I don’t like, and for the kind of oily, seedy suited monstrosities who talk about values and ideals during the day but visit the kinds of places I was held in during the evening, to show what they really believe in, but now I discover that besides all of that hypocrisy and lying cant it’s really possible to have principles: real, pure ideals where you kill everyone who does the things you think are wrong. Who can stand between a young woman with power armour, and her moral goals? Not a bunch of soft and squishy bio-scientists, that’s for sure …
Outfit: Power armour! We stole a suit during the hit on the train but it needed repairing, and it’s finally ready to use. Pops is off working on his crazy plan to create a community of misfits who’ll live together somewhere remote until someone loses their cool and they all kill each other, so we decided that for today’s raid I should wear the power armour. I made sure Coyote scrubbed the Arasaka logo off before I wore it, so it’s not uncool or anything, and it is great! I can move as freely as if I was in my favourite one piece, but it boosts my strength and reflexes and all my senses, and it’s almost as good for protection as my normal combat armour. We need more of this!
News: Arasaka have declared war on Goliath! We were watching the news about how the Corporate High Council has been reformed without Arasaka when it was interrupted with a special announcement that was a live feed from Arasaka, but when Arasaka say “live” they really don’t know what the word means because it was just some crusty old Japanese dude in a samurai suit going on and on about treachery and justice. I thought it was some kind of new samurai drama but Coyote told me it’s actually Arasaka’s version of a declaration of war. They moved fast too, sealed off section 43 which is where Arasaka people mostly live, and now there’s Goliath armour moving around everywhere and everyone’s getting ready for war. War! We can make a lot of money in a war!
How shall I explain the dying that was done?
Shall I say that each one did the math, and wrote
The value of his days
Against the bloody margin, in an understated hand?
They will want to know
How was the audit done?
And I shall say that it was done,
By those who knew the worth
Of what was spent that day.
– The Falcon, on wars
So, although we can make a lot of money in a war, Coyote decided we should go on some stupid pointless mission to rescue his family from some dumb prison they got themselves into. Some Russian dude who is famous for being a human trafficker came to Coyote with a video from Coyote’s family, who apparently have never seen a contraceptive implant they liked because there’s like a thousand of them, and they all managed to get themselves locked up in the same ghetto down on the docks. The docks are now off-limits from Goliath policing, but Coyote’s cousin/niece/some random chick says that they were all rounded up and forced into this weird residential block, one family per room (so Coyote’s legion is all in one room) and sometimes Goliath police come by and grab someone and take them away and they never come back. Sometimes Goliath moves a family on to a “better” home but no one ever hears from them again and now it’s pretty clear that the “better” home is a bullet. So they managed to smuggle out a video to Coyote asking him to come and help them because he was always good at “fixing” things, and now just after we spent a lot of time talking about how we need to stop doing jobs for free, and just when a war comes along and offers us lots of chances to make money doing big fat wetworks, Coyote decides we need to go burn all our money freeing his family. All four hundred of them.
After a bit of investigation though, we found a way to turn a profit. Coyote’s family are being held in some kind of housing complex that is also a Goliath facility of some kind, and it looks a lot like it’s being used for some kind of research or it’s a death camp. If we film our raid we could sell it for a big cash windfall, because there’s a war on and everyone’s interested in what Goliath did to trigger it. So we hooked up with Lin, the journalist who stumbled into our first mission together, and she agreed to come with us and film the situation in the Goliath Ghetto in exchange for an equal share of the takings. Because the ghetto is in the docks we spoke to Ghost’s goldfish hunter friends, and found out that they have a few people trapped in there too – Goliath has been casting a wide net to fill this ghetto up, which is interesting in itself – and they offered us two AV transports, capable of taking 60 people between them. We figured we could free another 20 random people, and we decided we would only free the first 20 people who promised to pay us 500 nuyen each, in either future work or cyberparts they don’t want. Ghost and Coyote did some investigating and found out that the people in this ghetto are having cheap and nasty cyberware put into them against their will by Goliath, which makes no sense at all, and we figured they would want that cyberware out so we could use it as payment for their transport.
If it all goes down smoothly, we could make a lot of money. Oh, and free Coyote’s massive extended family. And find out what Goliath is doing in the docks, where some of our friends live and we’ve noticed there’s a lot of trouble happening. So in we went.
We went in from the Pit, because there’s a way into almost everywhere in the docks from the Pit. The building we were targeting was an enormous column stretching up from the base of the docks almost to the next level. Around this enormous pillar there were habitat rings, each perhaps five stories high, spaced apart ascending the ring, and at the top – near the lowest level of New Horzion proper – a wider structure for AVs and troops. There were troops guarding this underground prison, but like all ghettos we were expecting them to be focused on keeping the Unwanted in, because no one who runs a ghetto ever expects anyone to come in and liberate the undesirables from outside, so we figured they’d be poorly armoured and unready.
We were right. We came in through some kind of sewer system that emerged under a railway line linking to the base of the tower. We managed to cut out a hole so we could emerge near the tower, but there were a squad of guards loading a train when we arrived – they had just finished loading two stretchers with people on into the train when I came out of the tunnel. They didn’t see me but when Carbon came up, his/her cyberleg banged on the rails and someone noticed, even though the train engine had fired up and it had started moving. We had to move fast to stop them before the train got in our way and they got to raise an alarm, but we are fast. I shot two dead instantly, Carbon put an arrow through the third and moved out of the way of the train, and Coyote popped up from the hole and blew away the fourth, then dropped back down as the train rolled over him. All four guards died instantly, and while we killed them Ghost hacked the train and wiped the video of our passing. He and Lin emerged from the hole, and we moved into the lift area. Ghost hacked in, and up we went. The lift opened into a corridor that ended in a guard room, with two guards inside. Ghost hacked ahead into the cameras in the guard room, so we knew what was there, and we moved up to the doors. I fired through and killed one of the guards, and as soon as I fired Carbon and Coyote charged in, guns pointed at the other. He didn’t even have time to wipe the gore off his face before they were on him, and he soon agreed to tell us everything we needed to know. Carbon cut off the other guard’s fingers to bypass fingerprint scanners, and after the first guard told us all we needed to know we locked him away in a cupboard. We moved up.
Coyote’s breeders were on a level much higher up from the security sectors, accessible by a single lift that opened into a security area with two sets of secured doors, between which a guard sat in a little bullet proof booth, and beyond which two more guards stood ready. Ghost hacked into the security system again and prepped the doors, and up we went. At the top the doors opened as we wanted, and we ran in. I managed to slide through and kill both the interior guards before they could react. Carbon came through afterwards, almost as fast, and smashed through the door into the security room; Coyote tried shooting through the window but it was bullet proof. The guy inside pretended to surrender but actually tried to deploy a snub pistol embedded in his arm [idiot – working as a security guard isn’t a movie, what use is a snub pistol against us?], but Carbon saw the shift and pinned his arm to the wall with an arrow. We left him there. Carbon and I took positions in the hall, and Coyote and Ghost went on to gather his family. This took a bit of time because he has so many cousins, and lots of people wanted to pretend to be cousins, but eventually he found a few people to get everything rounded up. That’s when he found out that the Goldfish hunters’ family were six levels up, so he had to go up to get them while me and Carbon kept guard and the family milled around at the lift. Some more guards made the mistake of trying to attack the lift while we were waiting, but we gunned them down; Ghost, coming up behind them to access the control room, killed the last one himself. We all retreated to the lift and went down with Coyote, his legion of cousins, and the Fisher folk.
At the bottom some wizened old distant relative of Coyote’s mentioned that she couldn’t find Timmy. Timmy! You know, Timmy! Who Coyote had never met, nor ever heard of, like most of his extensive family of nobodies, but who we now had to rush off to rescue from wherever he was. Apparently he had been taken out of the Coyote-community a few days ago, so we had to go find him not in the residential section up above but in the secured section beyond the lift. By now alarms were going off everywhere, and we figured we didn’t have very long at all before Goliath’s best soldiers came down on us. Fortunately, they didn’t know about the access from the Pit, so they would have to come down from the AV access areas at the top, which meant multiple switch-backs between lifts that they would have to fight Ghost to control. We guessed we might have time (and who doesn’t want to fight their way out of a Goliath research complex just once?!) so we sent the Legions of Coyote off down the tunnel we had used to come up, and ran into the security/research complex at the base of the Goliath Ghetto.
Things down here were pretty simple, probably because Goliath was expecting any trouble to be ghetto dwellers breaking out, heading up, not trained soldiers breaking in and heading down. There were no guards, and we soon broke into the research complex. Finally we found the central labs. After we had rampaged through a couple of supply rooms we hit the central labs, where there were six research scientists cowering at their desks and trying to look all innocent, like they were just doing experiments on flies or something. The bodies, the graphics on big screens, and the people suspended in cryogenic units suggested something different. The room was suffused in a calm blue glow from the cryogenic units, maybe 10 of them, in each of which a real actual person was slowly metamorphosing into a monster. Something terrible was happening here, and we all wanted to know what it was. Ghost ran to access a computer terminal, yelling at one of the scientists to give him details while Coyote threatened the guy with his massive pistol; Carbon sprinted through to secure the far door.
Me, I did what Dedicated Retribution Units do after they’ve been Involuntarily Demobilized by these kinds of people. I set to work.
The first scientist was running out of the lab into the hallway, and I reacted before I knew we were in a lab; I shot him in both knees, but he wasn’t ready for the power of my rifle and had some kind of seizure when both his kneecaps blew out, falling down and twitching and frothing on the floor. I’ve seen that before and I know it means my job is done, so I moved straight into the room – in this power armour I have to take point. Because it was obviously safe Coyote and Ghost moved in behind me towards the central computer stack, the remaining five scientists all standing gape-mouthed in front of their work. The closest one had her scalpel in hand, standing just past the body of a child on a trolley, organs spread out in little dishes like some kind of Cantonese wedding party for the dead. I didn’t stop in my inward movement, slinging my rifle as I moved forward, and grabbed her by the face, lifting her over the trolley. The power armour has a huge amount of servo power, but I’m not used to its strength; as I lifted her up the boosted armour crushed her jaw and cheekbones, shattering them like a ripe melon and splattering her blood over her name badge, which I deliberately forget now because people like this do not deserve names; the body slipped out of my grip with a kind of still-desperately-kicking gasp and she fell on her experimental “subject” (funny how they use that name for people who are almost always objects), scattering organs all over the floor; somewhere there was a little dish of this child’s belongings and that too fell and scattered onto the floor, but now the scientist was twitching and spasming and gurgling on the gurney, her blood and teeth joining the child’s beads and liver and kidneys. I don’t like to leave a job half done but I thought she deserved such an ending so I left her there as I turned to the rest of the room. Things were moving too slowly – Carbon had barely reached the far door and Ghost was still plugging into the mainframe, but the remaining four scientists’ eyes were widening with slow horror as they realized the Ethics Committee had decided to do a site inspection. The nearest one tried to run to hide under a desk but he slipped on the first one’s blood and did a kind of clumsy somersault, breaking a leg as he fell. I let him slither, gasping, under the desk, thinking he had a safe moment, before I punched through the desk and grabbed him by the back of the neck. Power armour is a very serious force multiplier, but I couldn’t get him out of the desk through the hole I made – after a bit of shaking I gave up, but by now I’d broken him all apart like you see in those videos of lions and buffalo in the savannah back in the Oil Age before humans wiped out all the big predators. Now I’m the big predator and humans my prey, but I guess he didn’t get much time to make the connection while he was being rattled around like a rag doll, thinking his company would save him. The third scientist tried to scoot past me to the door after I threw his friend away like a rag doll but I punched him in the stomach as he ran (these people really should try some boosting if they’re gonna be in this line of work!) He made a kind of hydraulic “whoof” sound and went up to the ceiling, coughing a little constellation of blood all over the floor, then came crashing down. I think he was trying to say something to me after that but each time I punched him his pathetic begs just came out as soggy squelching noises, and then he stopped. There were two left now, backing away into the corner of the room and trying not to get noticed. Ghost was still busily downloading their data while Coyote watched him protectively, occasionally looking at me in this kind of disappointed way (I always disappoint Coyote, he’s constantly complaining that if I get the right coupons I can get my nails done 10% cheaper!) I guess those two scientists had figured out now that maybe if they both ran one of them might be able to beat the other one to the door, but I’m not bloodthirsty – I’m just doing retribution. So I shot them both as they ran, and tapped them a second time as they fell. Really, some people are so arrogant! Thinking I’m going to run all the way across the room just to kill them when I have so many perfectly good guns! But I guess that’s why they’re big-shot scientists in a human research facility, and I’m just a vengeful demon.
Ghost finished his download, though he was muttering it was largely incomplete (what could these people have been learning that we want to know?) and he hadn’t found Timmy, so we moved on, past the inner door of the lab. Here we entered a corridor lined with cells, in each of which was this monstrous semi-human thing, a massive warped pile of flesh and muscle, obviously bioengineered in some way out of a real human. They were screaming and yelling and slamming into the walls of their cells, but it was obviously dangerous to try and open the doors, these cells were reinforced and reinforced for a reason. We stalked down this eerie corridor, surrounded by the blast glass-muted screams of the not-yet-dead, and came to a horrifying dead end. After about eight cell doors the corridor stopped at a kind of door, with a drop into a crate. In that crate was a pile of bodies in various stages of malformation: some still fully human, dried blood around mouth and ears; some half human, their hands brutalized from trying to escape their cells; some closer to the monsters in the hallway behind, but still broken and wrecked. Timmy was nowhere to be seen, but his presence was dark and threatening in the room. He was somewhere in that pile of bodies, obviously. We took another look in the cells to see if the warped faces in there might be Timmy, yelling his name, but the figures in the cell were so broken and deranged that we couldn’t tell even if they heard us, let alone if they were once a small, slender dark-haired teenager with an Arabic mother and Spanish father, who played Virtual-Pokemon and liked spun candy and was said to have got up to some mischief with Angela from the third block that made their families break up in acrimony; he was gone, replaced with either madness or the stench of wasted death.
Then I looked at the camera, and I took a bit of the Falcon, and changed her, and made her my own, and spat her back out in the faces of the villainous scum who authorized this pit of bodies behind me. I gestured down there and said
We’re coming for you, who signed the requisition for this. You’re next in that pit. Cross the gulf between the stars, and we’ll come after you. Go into centuries of storage, and we’ll be there waiting for you, clone-new, when you re-sleeve. We are what you once dreamed of as gods, mythical agents of destiny, as inescapable as Death. We’re after you now, you creeping torturers and rapists, and you can sign all the digital requisitions you want but in the end you’re going to finish in that pit, and we won’t be merciful dragging you there.
Then we ran. And got out.
Now the whole world knows what you’re doing, Goliath, they have seen your hidden crimes. But you don’t have to worry about the whole world: You have to worry about me. I know what you did, and I don’t like it, and I’m not some fearful New Horizon mite, who can’t protect their family or doesn’t know where to go to get justice. I bend death to my will; like the Falcon said, I won’t even let Death in the tradesman’s entrance. I am the fury of a woman not just scorned but wronged, and wronged again. I have no past and no future, nothing to live for, and no reason to die quickly. I will measure my vengeance, but you can rest assured it is coming. I don’t know who Timmy was, but I know who he should have become, and I will pay you back for that, and for all the others who you ground up mercilessly for profit and power. I am the Dedicated Retribution Unit (Involuntarily Demobilized). They should have demobilized me properly when they had the chance, because now I’m coming for you.
fn1: Was there ever a better-timed Combat Sense critical? This got me to Combat Sense 8, finally … Drew is rocking …
Brief summary for the less bloodthirsty:
1. Coyote got a message from his family begging him to rescue them from some kind of ghetto in the docks
2. We decided to help them, and some goldfish hunters whose family were also in the same ghetto
3. We broke into the ghetto and slaughtered our way up
4. We rescued the necessary people, and ran down
5. One of Coyote’s family, some poor helpless Timmy kid, was taken from them to the research labs in the basement a few days ago
6. We slaughtered our way into the basement, and found that there are human experiments going on that seem to involve some kind of bioengineering to create insane super-soldiers
7. No Timmy, but lots of vengeance
8. We got out, with a video of the whole thing including the research labs; Goliath are in big trouble.