Success is a tricky thing in shadowrunning. Kat called what happened in Redmond a success. JT preferred a different term.
“A cluster frag. That half-torched kitten nearly got our hoops shot off. Yet here we are again. New stakeout and same fragging kitten.” JT ran his hands through his hair in frustration.
“He was going after the ganger. Besides, what do we know? Maybe it was an elf that burned him.” Kat jumped to her kitten’s defense.
“Well we know that I got shot, and somehow you developed a plan to get us out of that debacle. I still don’t recognize how that is supposed to help us here.” He made a series of irritated scoffing noises.
‘Here’ meant South Downtown just after nightfall. The skies were purple with the glow of Seattle’s neon underbelly. A thick sheaf of clouds promised rain but offered only gloom. Kat’s crew waited in the back of a GMC Step Van parked along a row of cars and trucks on a block of houses and storefronts. One storefront, DLC Services, garnered the crew’s attention. According to the public matrix, Darren L. Carlyle Management Services “coordinates construction and corporate expansion for local businesses” however, Kat’s decker friends over at Dumpshock knew it as an off-the-books transfer station for the Ares Corporation. Ares used DLC as a way to legally profit off of goods they’d already sold. They kept the office in the low security neighborhood of Tukwila because the residents knew better than to ask any questions.
Kat stroked Fluff’s charred fur, “They’ll be expecting a transfer. If we’re smooth about it, we can make it.”
Kitsune sighed. “Yeah, but they’ll be expecting elves, and I don’t have the magic to fool them.”
“It’s a closed system. You can’t get in unless you are already inside Ares. Us lowly deckers have ways to sleaze it. So you need to trust me on this. If you and JT can take out the patrol, it will give us enough time to get the goods and get out.”
“And ‘IF’ it goes wrong I’m supposed to rely on a shaman to drive us out of here?” JT spat out ‘if’ like a jailhouse swear. “Or maybe the fleabag cat will take over and drive us home. They don’t just give away DocWagon memberships, Kat. Mine isn’t even fully paid up. We need a rigger.”
“A rigger means splitting the take four ways instead of three. For now Kitsune can drive. Besides, if we do this right there won’t be a shot fired.”
JT snorted. “IF…”
The DLC building butted up against an Alleyway that concealed the entrance to an underground garage. The guns were down there somewhere. Kat didn’t think they’d have too much trouble getting to them: Knight Errant had only provided a dozen or so guards inside, relying on security cameras and an alarm system to keep them informed. Because the system wasn’t connected to the outside world, Knight Errant thought it’d stave off the deckers. It wasn’t.
The three shadowrunners climbed out the van. Kat crept ahead and jacked into a service panel by the building’s entrance. It took her a few seconds to disable the alarm and loop old camera footage of the alley and the underground parking structure. All that was left was a pair of guards patrolling the perimeter. Through the camera’s eyes Kat could see them approaching.
“Okay, Kitsune, it’s your show now.” In her slaved camera, Kat watched the shaman raise her hands as a light mist and fog began to rise up from the ground. The closer of the two guards was the first to notice. He motioned to his partner, and they moved with caution toward the mouth of the alley, drawing their weapons.
Kitsune stepped out from behind the corner with her hands now buried in the pockets of her longcoat. She stared at the two men, whispered a phrase in her native tongue, and both toppled to the ground as her stunball hit home.
JT hopped into the driver’s seat and maneuvered the van down the narrow alley. Kat raised the security gate, then jacked out and hurried after her crew. The underground garage took up the entire footprint of the building. At the north end they could see a small security office near a row of shipping containers. Kat rubbed a patch of soft fur under Fluff’s chin and told her to stay in the van. Fluff appeared indignant. Kat ignored her and joined her companions in front of the security office — apparently manned only during the day shift.
“So what now?” JT demanded. “We dig through the containers until we find one full of guns? How long do you think it will be before the guys outside wake up, or someone wanders down here on a sweep?”
“Trust me, JT. They were expecting company later tonight—not now. We’ve got a while before the exchange. Relax. This place’ll be empty for a while.”
The door to the security office wasn’t locked. Kat sat down behind the desk and jacked into the computer. Too easy. She quickly identified which container held the guns. It was maglocked, but after some digging, she found the passcode, as well as something just as interesting: a small bit of paydata listing the location of similar DLC containers stored throughout the city. She filed this away for later and told her crew what to do.
They backed the van up to the cargo container while Kat popped it open. It felt like her birthday. There were a dozen crates of Ares Alpha assault rifles, ammunition and several other goodies.
“Let’s not get greedy, folks. Take what you can and move fast.” Kat settled on a silver briefcase sitting on a shipping crate in the back of the container. She opened it and motioned the others over to see.
JT’s eyes widened. “Is that what I think it is?”A smile spread across Kat’s face, replaced quickly by a look of determination “Let’s not get distracted. We’ve got to get these crates out of here.” She nodded toward Kitsune.
Sometimes Kitsune seemed so much like Fox; her spirit totem. The likeness manifested itself in her darting glances or the occasional twitch of her nose. She moved weapon crates from the shipping container to the van slowly, occasionally rubbing a spot behind her ears.
Kat couldn’t help but notice the change in her friend’s demeanor. “What’s on your mind?”
“I just…” Kitsune’s words seemed heavy. “I… keep thinking that there is something we’re missing. Ahteen hires a couple of elven hitters through a fixer in order to take out a NAN tribesman who doesn’t appreciate the dragon nosing around tribal business.”
JT and Kat shrugged. It didn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary.
“What really bothers me is I’ve never heard about Ahteen having a stake in tribal matters. I’m no Elder, but I think I’m close enough to members of the tribes to know if something like that was going on.”
JT grunted as he heaved a particularly dense crate into the van. “Kitsune might be on to something here. What’s to say Ahteen is involved in this at all?”
Kat said, “No, I can feel that dragon’s footprint on this. When you’ve been on something’s snack plate it leaves an impression.”
Fluff mewled. Kat went over to see what was the matter. The kitten seemed riveted on a spot just out of view. She produced another mewl.
“What’s wrong, kitty? You see a mouse?”
Fluff rose up on her haunches and leapt swiftly out of the van.
“Crap, not again!” Kat chased after Fluff, yelling for her to stop. Just as Fluff was in her reach, Kat’s pursuit was interrupted by the sight of the Then security cruiser, headlights off, rolling down the ramp into the garage. “Drek!” she spat, and doubled back, all thoughts of stealth extinguished.
As she ran back to the van, Kat yelled to Kitsune and JT. “We’re blown! Get in the van!”
Kitsune growled something under her breath as she climbed into the driver’s seat and started the van. JT tossed the case he was carrying into the backseat and climbed in after it. Fluff was padding proudly back toward them, a limp mouse trapped between her jaws. Kat managed to snatch her up just as Kitsune got the van moving.
“We’ve got too much gear back here to outrun them!” JT cried.
“Quiet, JT!” Kitsune needed to concentrate.
Knight Errant’s security cruiser was out of position. Kitsune muscled the van past it and thundered up the ramp and out into the alley. A second cruiser stuck its nose into the alley, hoping to deter the runners. It didn’t. Kitsune’s van crunched the hood of the cruiser, stalled for a moment, and then kept going. Sirens followed. The van was slow and moved even more sluggishly in the hands of the shaman. Kitsune made as sharp a left turn as possible, accelerated for three blocks, then wrenched the wheel right again.
“Quiet, JT!” Kitsune was losing patience.
The back window shattered, followed by the heavy whump whump of an Ares mounted machine gun. JT let out a small whimper. Something struck the rear wheel and suddenly they were airborne. The van came down on its side throwing Kat and JT around the rear cabin. It took several seconds for the three to orient themselves. Outside the van a pair of security cars squealed to a stop.
“Kitsune, give us some cover. JT, grab whatever you can!”
As before, Kitsune cast her Mist spell. This time it was much more powerful. The area quickly became thick with a dense, obfuscating sheen of vapor. Kitsune staggered as the force of the spell really affected her. Kat fumbled around in the magical fog until her fingers closed on a briefcase. Fluff emitted a desperate whimper, and Kat scooped her up with her other arm and started to run. She took one last look at the van. “We really do need a rigger.”