Part X

Whitehot was figity which made her nervous as all hell. Painter and Tiny were not happy about this which meant that it had to be something they had considered possible, but never thought likely. Looking at them, the "visitors" were going to be less than happy. At least they had given her a headset so she could listen in.

Painter was on the roof with what looked like one of the sniper rifles in back of Gabriel's shop. "Estimated eighteen to twenty-four bogies in back of three APCs, driver and shotgun in each. Approaching from the west-northwest." Tiny had donned a close-fitted jumpsuit that blended him into the subtle designs of the panelings. With concious effort she was able to follow him as he left the room though that strained her eyes.

The Dead Man punched some keys with a bit of finality. "Tweaked their satelight uplink. Patching our satelight link through to Maria."

Whitehot's deck synthesized voice came over the headset. "Building defenses on alert. Internal systems report OK. Lo-tech systems enabled."

"Lez welcom' er guez'z."

She loosened her pistol in its holster.

"They are parked in spaces 7, 9, and 10. Bogies exiting vehicles. twenty-one, repeat twenty-one bogies counted. Three drivers staying in vehicles. Seven each disembarked from the back of space 9 and 10. No bogies exiting space 7, repeat no bogies exiting space 7. Probable satelight uplink on roof. Shotgun from 7 exiting vehicle and trailing landline to pole service box. seven moving to rear, fourteen to front."

"I'z gotta rear."

"Working on the landline."

"Routing communications splice to Maria."

The tapped communications line came in quieter. "...oup ready in rear."

"Door in front is barred. Bring out the battering ram."

"Lockdown seismics. Battering ram in twelve." It was a long twelve seconds. "Cover your ears."

"One two three..." She felt the explosion. "Fragin' hell! What was that? Drek! they shapecharged the door! We got three down, one wounded."

"Do you have access?"

"Negative. There is an inner door."

"Gain roof access. B Group check the back door."

"They're coming in the landline. ICE responding."

"What's the count?"

"Four..." "Drek! Grab the fire extinguisher!" "One fried; make that three."

There was a slight puffing sound. "Grappling lines in place. Going in."

"Got three lines." She could hear a hissing noise. "Torch ready."

It took a moment. "You hear something?"

"Plasma torch!" "Ashes, ashes, they all fall..." "Get down from..." "down." "Frag! Two down, one seriously injured."

"Eigh'z en fron'."

"How they doin' back there?"

"Juz' abou' bypazz da trapz. 'Bout twenty."

"Scratch one more decker. Sleeze ICE just about has the one. Drek this guy is lucky."

"Inner door disabled. A Group has access."

"Th'yz got it."

"B Group has access."

"A Group going... Drek! move move move! We have sniper fire! Move mo..." There was a gurgling sound.


"What's going on?!"

"Sleeze ICE has hold. Should get eight secs."

"Satelight tweak detected. Splice still undetected."

"Crossbows in the walls. Two more down."

"Who is this?"


"You're in charge now. Keep them moving. B Group proceed with extreme caution."

"Sleeze firing system assault."

"The other?"

"Hurt and vicious."

"Stop! Stop! The floor is trapped."

"APCs are painted and locked. I'm coming down."

"What happened?"

"Floor is weakened. Monofilament wire buried underneath. We lost one" She had wondered why they were insistance she not go back there.

"Smoke the place."

Painter entered and unceremoniously shoved a gas mask on her then placed one on Whitehot while the Dead Man put on his. There was a bit of an echo now. "Alright, go."

"Fizh in 'e barrel."

"We have fire! This is B Group, we have fire!"


"What's going on?"


"What's going on?"

"A half."




"Not now!"


"B Group! What's going on?... B Group!... Contact has been lost with B Group."

"Sleeze complete. Decker down."

"The other?"

"Augh!" There was some sort of clatter.

"Down and out."

"A Group! Status!"

"Lost one more. Heat signatures ahead."

"Proceed with extreme caution! Repeat, proceed with extreme caution!"

Tiny entered the room. "Th'yz here!"

She was pushed towards where Whitehot and Dead Man had taken cover. She crouched there and found the pistol in her hand. She suddenly had a vision of an old movie she saw with a all-too-silicon blond made before silicon meant cyberware. She ducked a little lower as Tiny and Painter opened fire.

"B Group status!"

Painter dropped down under cover for a moment. "Missiles away." The satelight splice went to static before Dead Man dropped it.

Bullets wizzed above her and impacted into the sheet steel desk between her and the door. She thought she heard Tiny say he dropped two and Painter seemed to say he'd dropped one. They'd rolled a gas grenade into the room, but they didn't seem to phase either Tiny or Painter despite the lack of gas masks. There might have been the sound of another grenade rolling down.

There was a moment of blackness as the shockwave hit.

Someone was half-pushing, half-carrying her along, but she wasn't sure who. She, maybe he, was shouting something and looking where Tammy felt she had stumbled from. Hands grabbed her again, hands she forced herself to focus on. They were a woman's hands. No, they weren't her own. Tammy's mind started whirling, 'Who the drek is this woman? Why was she forcing me somewhere? Where is Painter and Tiny or even Whitehot!' Tammy felt a rebellious anger rise in her moment before a shot rang out and hands dropped from her arm.

 It was a local place that had enough people floating in and out that strangers wouldn't be noticed. The karoke machine was well in use which, with conversations going on all about, made it difficult to hear the person next to you. She supposed that was the point.

The lights were off and the only illumination was by liter beer bottle lamps on the tables against the walls. Occationally someone would flick a lighter and throw a spark of light about a face. The spark would die and the fading face would blend back into the background of faces.

They looked at ease save Whitehot leaning back into a darker shadow. He seemed to be having a rather feverant double converstaion between Painter and Tiny and whatever Harold was. Their conversations shifted to daily events as the waitress dropped by to check on them. Tiny was slowing on his fifth stout, Painter ordered another shot of tequila, Whitehot was nursing his first Daquari with the remainder of her nachos. She wanted an ice tea.

Oh, it felt so good to sit down! The constant bumping and moving had kept her sore and had tired muscles she didn't know she had. Hunger and thirst had plagued all of them as they didn't want to stop. Time was critical. She'd started to get quiet and irritable hours ago as the fatigue she'd been feeling since the effects of the concussion grenade wore off. Before that was hours of travel by plane, train, Maria, and an abandoned subway where she was sorry she had to get out to relieve herself. The faint odor still lingered. All the while she had been sitting there with nothing to do but try to sleep. All the while she had not slept. All the while it was coming back to her. All the while she was feeling a bit sick.

Whitehot had immediately kicked in a program that would slip little bits of information that others would try to track them by into the data-continuum of computers. With any luck it would at least buy them time and that was the name of the game at the moment. "Someone cared enough to find us and," Painter had tried to sooth her, "not only find us, but send out a company of mercs to get us. Shadowrunners are very expendible and if you screw a few over once in a while noone cares. There will always be more shadowrunners. You hire mercs when there is a job that must be done. You screw over mercs you will never see one again. Either they just won't work for you or you'll be too cold to care. Whoever hired them hired not only a team but an entire company. That they were good enough to find us means they were either sloppy ot they didn't tell the mercs what they might expect."


"Donno. They have the power to find us but they hired amateur mercs. They walked up like they owned the place in broad daylight. They ignored the door setup which was a big warning sign. Their communications were shoddy and might as well not been encrypted."

He hadn't tried to tell her it was going to be alright. He didn't seem sure himself. About the only reason she felt any reassurance is that he was still calm and Tiny was sleeping with half an eye open and Whitehot was erasing their trail with every trick to the limit of his skill.

Somewhere the Dead Man had left them, scattering a false trail of his own. Looking down at her half-empty glass she tried to remember when that was. It was too long ago. Instead she tried to focus on the conversation, but she was oh-so-sleepy. Eventually, even the haunting memory of the man she kill was not enough to keep her awake.

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