Bills to Pay

The Snatch

First paycheck of the month

The team awakened Thursday morning to find that their prodigal technomancer, Guei, had returned. The ways of mages and ‘mancers are mysterious, and the team had long gotten tired of asking questions he wouldn’t or couldn’t answer. He’d been with the team nearly as long as any of them and never proven false, so it had gradually become the norm.

The team hashed out their plans for the day and got ready to go just as Val put through a notice that was getting broadcast on every frequency, channel, and site that the corps controlled and a few they didn’t. The scowling face of Electra Theoderides, Paramount’s current CEO, informed pretty much everyone in no uncertain teams that the rules were changing. For the background for her speech delivery, she chose to let viewers see her engineer teams knocking down some unfortunate tenements and putting up an HQ to her liking while regular and paramilitary forces looked on.

A quick double-check of Seattle geography confirmed that Paramount wasn’t going to present any immediate problems so they set it aside to deal with later. Cami and Patchwerk went to walk the route they were hoping to guide Khalid into to make sure they wouldn’t have too many surprises waiting for them there while Jack and Xiaofeng headed back to their chosen meeting point with Honda to do a more thorough recon and prep job there. They managed to uncover a recently infiltrated recon-bug drone, whose tiny electronic brain quickly became Guei’s target. After punching his way in past its necessarily limited firewall, he edited its video and audio feed to harmlessly loop stale data back to Honda.

The route Cami and Patchwerk were walking was a semi-secret rooftop highway, a branching web of rope bridges, planks, and knocked-over ladders. It rose, fell, branched and merged over a generally North-South course, and would take Khalid within a few hundred meters of his intended halfway point of the nightclub in T-Town. They narrowly avoided getting in between a trio of drunken rooftop thugs and the crowd that decided they were through with having empties thrown at them. They finally decided that it would make the most sense for Khalid to ascend to the aerial path relatively close to IBM, and the best-known entrance point that far north was an abandoned luxury condominium building.

After meeting up briefly at the drop point to conceal one of Patchwerk’s combat drones and go over positioning for the handoff, the team split to their respective homes while Jack went to check on his old friend Kent in Deerhollow. Their plan for making the coastal route too scary to travel had been to ship a few kegs to Jack’s old friends and start up a party that would hopefully involve some of the neighboring Hoods in one way or another. When Jack got there he found the gang kicking around the booze, looking at the pillar of smoke rising to the South, and definitely not drinking. Deerhollow was in the first ring of Hoods to be taken over by Paramount, and the sounds of firefights punctuated by heavier ordnance had dampened spirits. Nonetheless, especially if the bar’s free, you may as well drink away your sorrows, and Jack ended up spending the night with his old pals and helping them empty the kegs.

Their prep work done, there wasn’t much to do Friday but wait for the night to kick off the op. Cami was picked to shadow Khalid on foot, something that turned in to a problem when he exited his enclave and hopped in a cab. Luckily, Guei didn’t have any trouble hacking into it by way of Cami’s commlink, especially since all he was doing was keeping tabs on its location. The team scrambled, ready to ditch to a different snatch point, but Khalid ended up coming right to the building they thought he would, complete with Jack and Xiaofeng on the roof.

While Cami tried to catch up in a cab of her own, Khalid got close enough for Jack to peek over the edge of the roof with his cybereyes and spot not only Khalid, but a dwarf shadowing him. Patchwerk, worried about this unknown, hopped on Jack’s bike from where it had been stashed next to her van and rolled up next to Khalid to try to seduce him on board. A man that’s already paranoid – with good reason – about being tailed is a hard target for seduction, however, and since he was in sight of his goal, the abandoned condos, he broke into a run.

Val was able to listen in on the dwarf’s encrypted radio traffic without too much difficulty, and Guei hacked in to Khalid’s commlink in hopes that he’d have enough cyberwear to make it worthwhile. He wasn’t disappointed to find a pair of cybereyes in the young scientist’s skull, but he waited to blank them out until he’d burst out of the door on to the roof, where Xiaofeng went to tackle him and Jack leveled a Predator down the stairwell, waiting for the dwarf. Cami arrived, almost out of breath, in time to go for a tazer shot at him, and Patchwerk tried for a stun grenade. Too bad for the dwarf the tazer missed and the grenade bounced right back out of the hard concrete stairwell, because as soon as he rounded the corner a round from the heavy pistol punched right through his armor, chest, and out the other side.

An airborne drone overhead had followed the cab and then Khalid on foot, but in the excitement the hacker and the ‘mancer hadn’t noticed its transmissions and the sammy and adept hadn’t been able to filter the sound of its rotor out of the general noise of the street. They did notice the sound it made firing a couple bursts, but they weren’t exposed on the roof long enough for it to do more than clip Jack in the shoulder. Guei was, after a struggle, able to shut down its engines as it tried to tail the van and the team left it to plummet into the street and shatter on the asphalt, causing a multiple accident and several injuries.

The handoff went mostly smoothly. Cami made it there first, settling down with her Walther rifle, ready to back up the team with sniper fire if things went pear-shaped. Khalid, of course, was alternating between struggling helplessly and sobbing, or sometimes both simultaneously. When the Honda pickup crew arrived, it came in a black armored sedan, three Honda bikes, and a mid-sized cargo truck. The truck backed in and swung its doors open, revealing two medtechs and a gleaming white and chrome exam room and table, complete with restraints. The sight of the table through the magnification of a scope triggered something deep in Cami, causing her to seize up in a panic attack. Luckily for the rest of the team, there was no need of any sniping, as the shakily agreed-upon sum landed in the team’s Californian account as soon as Khalid was in the hands of their medtechs.

Honda took off and, after collecting the shaken stealth expert, the team rallied with Val at the T-Town club for a meal and a few restorative drinks. Thirty grand was a respectable sum, and January was yet young. The next morning they found that someone had probably tried to steal Khalid back from Honda, but the new guards in Paramount grays had driven them off. As far as they were concerned, however, it was time to start looking for the next job.

(Note: posted this without any proofreading or anything, so feel free to comment with any typos, events I missed, etc.)

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mrbeman

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