Rhapsody in Chrome IC

  • Rhapsody in Chrome IC

     foxglove updated 2 years, 10 months ago 2 Members · 56 Posts
  • brickyardbabe

    November 10, 2018 at 1:41 am

    [size=18pt]CHAPTER 1 – Renegade[/size]

    Picture two women, a study in contrasts. One is driving. She is tall and wiry, all sinewy synthmuscle and resting slitch face, silver cybereyes narrow and dark lips curling up in something that would be a smirk if there was anything to smirk about. She is dark, the deep purple of the last light before nightfall offset by glowing peony hair, and her dress is simple; black combat pants and plasteel-toed boots under a grey rapid transit top, topped off with a battered, once-expensive black leather jacket of behemoth hide. When she speaks, her voice is flat, sharp, unaccented, almost rude by its very nature.

    The other is small, a heady mixture of trim lines and lush curves, with an easy smile on plush lips. Her cheeks have dimples, and eyes the dead color of a weimareiner dog’s behind Zoë shades. She is dressed for comfort, in a flirty yellow sundress of light material, with a gauzy blue scarf floating about her shoulders. She is shod in blue ankle boots in the same color as the scarf, and she shifts in her seat in time with the music. When she speaks or sings, she can turn heads for a dozen meters, and when she laughs, it is like the sun coming out.

    All they have in common is their trade. They are masters of death, shadowrunners of a particular stripe and highly skilled in the often-violent trade.

    They roared north, forty klicks outside of Damascus, the multifuel engine of the big-block, heavily-tuned GMC Phoenix carrying them across the desert in a blur of black and chrome. They were fleeing Israel, a series of runs and decisions that haven’t panned out properly forcing a hasty exit. The smog from Damascus and the outlying industrial complexes turned the sky a sheet of silver-grey.

    “So she just twitched out?” The blonde, Misery, asked. “You tranqed her, she dropped, and then her wetware went all scrambled at some point between there and the hospital?” Misery shook her head. “Frag, that’s just drek luck, Fox.”

  • foxglove

    November 10, 2018 at 2:52 am

    Foxglove gave a shrug and a twitch of her lips, a sort of resigned “what are ya gonna do?” gesture. “Somethin’ spooky, I suspect. Then some roke, corp-lookin’ hoop strode in. Knew then it was gonna go to drek. Not worth 10k.”

    The purple elf wasn’t usually one to tell war stories, but she hadn’t even seen another Runner in months, let alone another female worth talking to. And it was just so easy to talk to Misery, despite only knowing her for a couple of hours. It actually bothered her a little. But the girl was nice enough, and Foxglove had spent a goodly part of her life learning who could be trusted and who couldn’t.

    It definitely helped that Misery was able to quote old tridshows with her.

    Foxglove had been driving for the border, going through the dourly-named Punishment Town to pick up some supplies before she exited out the other side to the great stretch of desert beyond, when she was stopped by a couple of cops. They had been giving her trouble about being there, about her plan to exit the town and how it was more difficult to get out than in and–blah, blah, blah. To be honest, Fox had stopped really listening after a while.

    It was then that the little blonde had come up to them with a smile, and one of the cops seemed to recognize her. The pretty little thing smiled sweeter and wiggled just so, and suddenly the cop had completely forgotten what he was trying to say to the Keeb in the car. Once the two men were on their way and out of line-of-sight, Misery had leaned down to poke her head into the open, passenger-side window, and gave the harshly whispered “Get me the hell out of here!”

    There was a brief moment of pause while Foxglove had looked her over, decided the woman wasn’t from ’round here, then nodded. No one of her talent should have to be stuck in that place.

    And so there they were, exchanging quotes, quips, and stories to pass the time of the otherwise boring drive across barren land.


  • brickyardbabe

    November 10, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Misery reached down to the cupholder under the stereo and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. She withdrew one, green with a silver filter and placed it between crushed-raspberry lips, lighting it with a flick of her fingers and taking a deep draw. Tapping ash out the half-open window, she stared out at the darkness, her astral sight painting the landscape with little smudges of color here and there, but even to a dual-natured creature such as she, this was a damned empty place.

    Still, it beat Israel.

    It had been two days since she burned her SIN, but barely more than two hours since she booked town. With one of the handlers she’d left behind carrying more than a million in SOTA chrome and another apparently being some kind of hard-ass spellslinger, she was gonna be a little twitchy until they got a little further away. Like, for “on another fragging continent” definitions of “a little further.”

    But she liked Fox. They’d been talking for a couple of hours now, quoting everything from Manhunt to Casablanca at each other, smoking and chatting. Fox was apparently an old-school ‘runner, and Misery couldn’t believe her luck in finding one . She had so much chrome that she was just a dark spot where a soul wasn’t, and possessed a stunning grasp of ways to kill people.

    The magnificent car didn’t hurt either.

    Sure, she was dour, and her resting expression suggested that she was passing the time by trying to figure out how many ways she could butcher you without exercising more than two major muscle groups, but she was funny, in an acerbic sort of way, and exotic enough to get Misery’s interest piqued, and had enough in common with Misery that it wasn’t all awkward silence and “Oh my, what a nice day. How about Local Urban Brawl Team?”

    Misery listened to Fox and nodded, taking another draw on her Parlie. “Man, frag this country. One more well-meaning macho ass tries to treat me like a porcelain doll, he’s gonna be laughing out the back of his head, because his face’ll be on the wrong side of his skull.”

    A third draw, then, “Alright, Miss Murderflower” Misery said with a touch of a laugh in her voice, “you got any ideas for where the frag to go to get away from the inevitable fecal-rotary intersection we’re fleeing? I mean, you may have let The Man’s kid get geeked, I definitely implicated a paramilitary street sam and my Johnson in domestic terrorism, and you are harboring a fugitive that you helped break out of a detainment camp.”

  • foxglove

    November 10, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    The elf nodded slowly, re-gathering the thoughts she’d had earlier about getting out. “Thought about Russia.” She twitched her chin to the Northeast, the direction they would have gone if that had been the case, but then shook her head. “Too much bad ground on the way. And I’ve had enough desert, thanks.”

    Fox fished out her own pack of Italian MS, holding it in her hand while she was silent for a moment, reviewing the plan again for possible issues, as well as other possible routs. Though there weren’t really any other appealing alternatives. “I have connections with fishermen. We find a boat big enough for The Impala and sail.” Another thoughtful pause as she teased a cigarette free and pulled it from the pack with her lips, intentionally ignoring the stare she was getting from Misery while she did it. “Greece, maybe?” She considered, voice partially muffled by the filter in her mouth. Foxglove shook her head again. No, Greece was still too close to this continent. If they were going to run, they needed to run. “Nah. Jamaica. Kingston. Crime den. We can get whatever we need, there.”

    Foxglove put the pack of cigarettes back in her pocket and brought out her zippo, using one hand to light, one hand to shield it from wind, and her knee to steer the speeding box of metal in which they were sitting. She frowned slightly as she lit up, the act reminding her of a thought she’d had when Misery had lit her own first cigarette of the drive. She took a long drag, and blew it out the window, “By the way: stop smoking Parlies. No one smokes Parlies, any more.


  • brickyardbabe

    November 10, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Tell Pax to stop smoking Parlies. No one smokes parlies anymore.

    Misery gave a little gasp as the memory sprang fully-formed into her mind. A wardroom, a hospital bed, a woman. Crying, shame, fear, and the exultant joy that comes from dodging the reaper’s scythe mingled in the dust of memory, and her hand trembled as she examined it.

    Where was she, what had she done, what had she been? Why had she chosen to give up her memory? What could possibly be so bad that she would throw away her life and the love she knew she had?

    Misery blinked, surprised to find a sting in her eyes and wetness on her cheeks. She reached up to catch the tail of her scarf and brush her face with it, then took an unusually long drag on her cigarette, trying to wrench her mind away from the past by focusing on the present.

    “Kingston.” She nodded. She’d never been, at least not that she’d remembered, but she’d heard of it right enough. If Havana was everyone was trying to get to in the Caribbean League, Kingston is where they were trying to get from. If you could frag it, shoot it, snort it, or stick it, you could get it in Kingston, or get killed for it. It was perfect for a couple of ‘runners- well, a ‘runner and a vampire fugitive on her way to becoming a ‘runner- to lie low for a while.

    Misery considered the implications of Kingston, then said, “I assume we’re talking about taking a boat then? Can’t exactly drive, and I’m guessing a month or two at sea would be good for waiting for our current status as wanted criminals to die down a bit?” Misery nodded slowly as the plan unfolded in her mind’s eye, following the jumps Foxglove must have made by now. It never even occured to her that Fox would just dump her somewhere on the way. “Istanbul’s a major port city. Okay, I see the logic now. Get there, hole up a day or two, find transport, get supplies, and set sail.”

    Then Misery frowned. Impala? This isn’t an…oh. She looked at the car, glanced in back to where she knew Fox had a smuggling compartment full of gear, remembered the quotes they’d been trading, put it together. “You’re a hunter. A shadowrunner who specializes in toxic mages, vampires, ghouls, and other sub-or-superhuman threats, aren’t you?” Misery’s voice had taken on a wary edge, and she looked at Foxglove sidelong, suddenly reassessing her position with the other woman.

  • foxglove

    November 10, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    She watched the other woman out of the corner of her eye, noting the shift in demeanor after the Parlies comment. She did wonder what had just happened, wondering if it was going to become a problem. The elf decided to let it go, for now, and keep an eye on the blonde in case it got to the point of hindrance rather than help.

    Foxglove nodded in affirmation with each of Misery’s observations. The girl certainly did pick things up quick. “Off the grid, completely. At least until we make port somewhere.”

    Then Misery made her wary question about being a hunter, and Fox felt a small dread burning her stomach. She wasn’t fully sure what Misery could do, but the woman carried herself with the sort of powerful confidence that gave the Nocturna pause.

    None of this showed on her face, however, remaining the same neutral as usual, and Foxglove gave a nonchalant shrug. “To an extent. I like to know how to kill whatever it is I’m up against. Why?” She asked, finally allowing the suspicion and wary glance melt onto her frame, sending Misery a near, mirror-image sidelong look, “Is there something…important you need to tell me?”


  • brickyardbabe

    November 10, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    “Probably!” Misery said with a laugh. She took a deep breath. “Some time ago, I lost my memory. Not all of it, mind. But huge chunks of the last couple of years, and smaller pieces reaching all the way back to my childhood.” Misery shrugged helplessly. “I’m told this was my idea, but…some things don’t add up.”

    Misery didn’t know why she was telling Foxglove all of this. She was smart and pretty and had enough cash that she could have made her own way easily enough. No reason to come clean to this ‘runner, especially a ‘runner that hunted her kind. Was it that she wanted a friend? A kindred spirit? Maybe she just wanted to learn? She’d never had to live in the shadows like she did now, and Fox could help her with that. Of course, so could a million other resources.

    In the end, Misery shrugged and kept going. While Fox may be dangerous as hell, unless she habitually kept silver in her gun Misery was pretty confident Fox couldn’t kill her, not in time to stop Misery’s retribution. Besides, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    “I’m also a vampire. Well, an infected. I’m actually a Banshee.” She kept her hands visible and was careful to stop shifting and avoiding any sudden moves. “You’re not in any danger from me, too much chrome.” She turned slowly to look at Foxglove full on, waited a beat, then asked pleasantly, “Nuyen for your thoughts?”

  • foxglove

    November 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Foxglove stayed still except for the act of driving, continuing to watch Misery as she spoke. Missing memories? Possible. Or it was a lie. Then again, the reaction the woman had to the Parlies comment would make more sense if it were true. Fox decided she would go with it, for now.

    Strangely enough, it wasn’t until Misery revealed what she really was that Foxglove relaxed some. At least now she knew, and she turned her eyes back to the road. If the Banshee Mage wanted her dead, there wasn’t much she could do about it right now, anyway.

    This would be a very interesting trip, indeed.

    “A Banshee…” The elf’s lips twitched in a way that could either have been amusement or disgust as she considered, then, “Good. I won’t have to deal with someone with a day schedule. Don’t worry ’bout me,” she continued, “only go after ones causing constant, neighborhood issues, or ones I get paid to. No call to me for your head. Besides,” she twitched her head toward the back of The Impala, “silver’s in the back.”

    Fox had been considering dropping Misery off in the port town to make her own way, but the woman seemed like she would be more of an asset than anything else. The elf had been working in isolation for far too long, something no shadowrunner should have to do, especially when jobs are on the line. And if it ended up that it didn’t work out? Well, Misery seemed the reasonable sort. They could easily go their separate ways at one of the ports.

    Or they’d end up killing each other. One of the two.


  • brickyardbabe

    November 10, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    “Right..okay…that makes…sense.” Misery said slowly. She’d never in her life encountered someone who was quite so blasê about finding out they were in biting distance of an infected. Not that it didn’t make sense, certainly. Fox was a merc, and if she understood how infected operated and wasn’t a raging bag of prejudice, then her response was perfectly logical. It was just very strange to hear it.

    Misery laughed suddenly, a bright, beautiful, happy sound. Tension bled from her shoulders. She was with a ‘runner she could understand on some level, a companion who wasn’t prejudiced, and they’d been riding for almost three hours without a single cross word. It was such a departure from the day before and her fear of saying anything with Ben and her rage about being treated as lesser because she was a woman that she couldn’t help but exult in the moment.

    Everything might be going to hell, but if she was headed south, she was doing it as a free, independent person for the first time in her life.

    “Alright, Foxglove, alright.” Misery said, the laugh setting her voice aquiver. “We’ve got another hour before we’re past Damascus and into sunrise. Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself. We’ve shot the shit about what a pile of drek Tel Aviv is, traded quotes from a dozen old shows and movies, and made plans for how to slot out of this part of the world.”

    Misery stubbed out her cigarette and flicked it out the window, then continued, “But I don’t know anything about you. Help me unravel the mystery of Fox. Why all the chrome? Why Tel Aviv? And how did you get these sweet wheels in the Middle East?”

  • foxglove

    November 10, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    When Misery’s tension dissipated and began to laugh, Foxglove found herself unable to keep hers either and joined in with a smile and a huff of almost-laughter of her own. The smile was relatively small, but was still a huge contrast to her usual dour expression, softening her features and allowing more of her true physical beauty to shine through.

    What a strange thing, emotions were.

    Then came the slew of questions, and the smile faded slightly, the softness seeming to transfer to the elf’s silver eyes as she reached out to pet the dashboard. “She’s been with me a long time. Brought me here, now she’s getting me out. Couldn’t stand to leave her behind.”

    Foxglove’s hand returned to the wheel, and her expression returned to the pissed-off “neutral” of before. She took a long, long drag of her cigarette, probably filling the entirety of her lungs with the Italian-made smoke, and let it out in a sigh. She hated talking about herself, but she supposed it was only fair. Misery, someone who probably had the same qualms considering the prejudice against Infected, had just opened up to her about something potentially damaging to herself, whether bodily or emotionally.

    It was really only fair…and would probably make things easier in the long run, really.

    So, might as well start with the heavy stuff, right?

    “I’m being hunted by two major, triple-A corps. They’d caught my scent, so I figured Tel Aviv was backwater enough to be able to disappear.” She took one last drag from her cigarette and flicked it out the window, only to reach into her jacket for another. “Chrome’s from CATco. I used to be a Seraphim…” Foxglove glanced over to Misery as she lit her cigarette, looking for any indication that the name of the prior-triple-A’s “black ops” team had registered as familiar. Did the girl know? Had she heard? Was she the sort to turn her in?


  • brickyardbabe

    November 11, 2018 at 12:22 am

    “The Seraphim? But they were disbanded, like, twelve or thirteen years ago, weren’t they?” Misery asked, incredulous. The Seraphim were on e of those names, in their day, that everyone recognized. Now they were mostly in trids or books or the occasional matrix game, the archetypal black-coat special ops teams. But once upon a time, they’d been as respected and terrifying as the Tir Ghosts or the Ares Firewatch.

    Misery was quietly agog, and more than a little thrilled. A lot of her childhood, between the traumas and training, had involved reading books and watching trids, and even the warped, diluted stories were enough to convey them as real, chrome-plated badasses, burning chrome on a hotjack. Ramjammers, spellslingers and kick-artists all, they were always impossibly cool and while Misery knew that there was a lot of artistic license and the usual mob tendency to bulldrek, she also knew there had to be something to legends.

    Misery whistled in C-sharp. “So ka, so when the Seraphim went dark, your choices were either join up with The Star, go military, get absorbed, or hit the shadows.” She tilted her head, eyes questioning. “You have to know there’s a huge bounty on you, then. Any former special ops team from the old corps gets the ‘velvet glove, do not let out of sight treatment.’ Something to do with all that chrome based on data lost in two-point-oh.”

    Misery understood. A secret for a secret. Made them equal, made them partners. Now if they went down, they’d go down together. She grinned suddenly. “No need for money, no desire to stab a new friend in the back, no way to collect. They’d shoot me on principle if I tried.” She reached out to pat Fox’s hand on the shifter knob once, briefly, knowing the other woman probably didn’t like being touched but needing the physical connection to punctuate. [color blue]“Thank you.”

  • foxglove

    November 11, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Foxglove had given a single, affirmative nod to Misery’s initial questions of disbelief, then turned her attention back to the road, left hand on the wheel, right hand on the shifter. That one reaction answered her question.

    She listened silently as the blonde did her thinking-out-loud thing, beginning to feel the tension start to creep back in to her muscles. Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea, after all.

    And then there was a hand on hers. Even though she saw the movement before contact was made, she still jumped in her skin, her entire body flinching, her eyes snapping to the hand. It took all her restraint to keep her physical reflexes in check.

    She blinked in surprise at the touch and frowned at the odd and unexpected comfort it provided, eyes darting as if rapidly reading something that wasn’t there, before giving a curt nod. She forced her muscles to relax, turning her attention out the driver’s side window.

    “Friend”…Sharon had used that word, but Foxglove didn’t have friends. She had acquaintances and contacts. But when Misery used it…well, the young Banshee without a full memory that she’s not even known for a full day felt the closest she’d probably ever be to having one.

    After a good, long moment of smoking in silence, the elf finally spoke. “We stop in Damascus. Hotel for the day, and sleep.”


  • brickyardbabe

    November 13, 2018 at 1:59 am

    The rest of the drive to the outskirts of Damascus passed quickly, the empty roads and the big engine combining to turn a fifty klick drive into a twenty minute drive. Misery danced in her seat, sang along with the songs she knew, and generally just acted like a cheerful fragging ray of sunshine instead of a bloodsucking nightmare that had lost her memory and was currently running from a psychopath and a vampire mage.

    Internally, she was wondering at Foxglove’s jump at being touched, at the tension creeping back into her stance. Had she done something wrong? Was there some social cue she’d missed? Or was Fox, like so many other ‘runners, just an anti-social, deeply damaged head case hiding it behind a thin veneer of civility and a lot of violence?

    They finally stopped just before sunrise, the sky starting to go from iron to steel. The place was a crap coffin motel, a crumbling building that had been tagged with graffiti. Some of it was even in AR, and astral spoor had been left as well. No matter what your form of vision, the place still looked like drek. The lobby was about the size of a closet, with a hungry-looking, skinny little elf girl in a cheap uniform standing behind twenty centimeters of bulletproof plexi, who took their money and gave them two coffin access codes without saying anything. A mechanical voice, however, told the pair, “No blood in the coffins. No shooting up in the lobby” delivered in the most inappropriately cheerful tone imaginable.

    Misery shook her head as Fox stepped away from the window. The pink-haired Nocturna had rented the cubicles because she still had a live SIN. Getting a new one was high on Misery’s list of priorities, but for now, Fox could use Misery’s credstick and her own SIN. Wearing everything she owned, she left Foxglove to see to her car with whatever arcane ritual the gearhead used to bond with her automobile, only giving Foxglove a pat on the shoulder and a half-whispered, “Thanks, Foxglove, for getting me out of Israel.”

    Then she was gone, climbing into a cubicle only three rows above ground, shooting a smile over her shoulder and wiggling her well-apportioned backside for Fox and the clerk before shutting the meter-square door behind her.

  • foxglove

    November 13, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    [color purple]Arm around the arm foot on foot break the elbow dislocate the shoulder arm blade to the throat step back two shots to the torso–NO. Foxglove’s arm and shoulder twitched under Misery’s hand with the touch, but it wasn’t the full-body flinch it had been before, and this time her expression remained unchanged. She gave the blonde a nod and watched her head to one of the cubicles. With the ass-wiggle, the dour elf actually gave a nearly-inaudible snort and a small shake of her head before heading outside.

    She turned the keys to The Impala around in her fingers, her mind wandering back to her previous thought of possibly separating from the Banshee, either here in Damascus or in the port town they were headed to. Foxglove had wanted to use this time securing everything in her car to think about this, but her ruminations were cut short when she spotted the black beauty in the distance…with its hood up.

    Foxglove’s eyes went deadly dark, and her move-by-wire reflexes shot into motion. In a movement that most would have seen as a flash, the Nocturna was beside the car, her Ares Predator mere inches from the pretty, redheaded temple that owned the pair of long, runway-model legs standing in front of the front bumper. “Hands. Off.” She growled in the way only a gearhead could when confronting someone touching their car. All the while her mind was going a mile a minute, wondering at once why her rather expensive alarm system hadn’t gone off, how this woman had gotten the hood up, what she was capable of, what someone so out of place was doing in the Middle East, if Fox would be able to kill the woman before she killed her, and if she could whether Fox even cared.

    She decided she didn’t care, but the unnaturally beautiful elf was far too close to the engine for Foxglove to be comfortable firing, and so she opted to give the slitch a single chance to walk away.


  • brickyardbabe

    November 13, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    “You can pull the trigger if you like. It won’t make any difference.” The woman said in English, in a voice even more musical than Misery’s. She straightened, showing off a sinuous grace and turned to face Fox directly. Her face was heartstoppingly lovely, but there was something in her eyes, a sort of indefinable feeling of age that was dreadfully out of place on her young, sculpted features. She smiled easily, and for a second the expression was such a dead ringer for Misery’s that it was actually sort of creepy.

    “You shall have to forgive my impertinence, dear lady. I was just admiring,” she gestured with a white-gloved hand at the pristine engine bay, “your ride.” She looked at the car again, making an expression of longing. “I am afraid I am some twenty years out of date on current models. When I saw such a fine machine as this, I could not help myself. You childer have such fascinating devices.” She shrugged and reached up to close the hood, then shot the bonnet pins closed with practiced, professional motions, her hands going on autopilot as she looked at Fox the entire time.

    “That is, of course, hardly the reason I am here. I see you have found my wayward bean sidhe.” The woman flickered for half a second, then vanished, reappearing a heartbeat later on top of the car, her legs hanging off the side, ankles crossed, her high black heels making small clicking noises against the window frame. “Tell me, lady Poison, do you intend to spirit her away from here? To make her your jolly boon companion? Or is this purely an alliance of convenience?” The red-garbed mystery woman’s tone was gentle, curious, not accusing at all, and her expression was guileless…except for her eyes. Those were shrewd, calculating, and Fox knew that a great deal might be riding on how she answered.

  • foxglove

    November 13, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    The Nocturna kept the barrel of her pistol trained on the woman even as she moved, her sights never once straying from their position on her head.

    The way she spoke was almost ancient, or at least it felt that way, and so Foxglove’s eyes narrowed for a split second when the seemingly-out-of-place comment about her ride came up, wondering if the woman had actually intentionally quoted an old trid in a long-running franchise or not.

    When the Stranger mentioned Misery, Fox’s first instinct was to flick her eyes back toward the hotel, but she managed to keep her eyes straight ahead in case the woman moved. She found, however, that even this had done her no good at all when the roke slitch blinked out and reappeared on top of her car. Her eyes narrowed again, glaring at the Stranger for sitting in such a place, but she knew, now, that it was a rather impotent gesture.

    As was her gun.

    She took a breath and let it out in a sigh, slipping the pistol back into its holster under her left shoulder as she spoke, “I haven’t decided that, yet.” She answered honestly, leaning against some scrub’s junker that happened to be parked next to her baby, arms and ankles crossing as she continued to glare even though every instinct she had was screaming at her for relaxing at all. Her logical mind, however, had a very good idea that there was absolutely nothing she could do, should this intruder want to kill her.

    “What do you want from me?”


  • brickyardbabe

    November 14, 2018 at 1:22 am

    “Why, nothing at all!” The woman in red replied with malicious good cheer. She shook her head. “Not at present, anyway. You may think of me as a patron of sorts, if you like. I am very, very old, and it may benefit you to make use of my peculiar skills and connections one day. Until then…” Her fingers described a small zero. “Until then, I simply want you to be your usual lethally-competent self.”

    The woman in red glanced up at the coffin hotel. “Your companion is, as you no doubt have realized, a deeply damaged young woman, and I fear that this is my fault. Though she does not know it, she flees my sister, and she has given up vast swathes of her life in exchange for safety and the safety of her lady love. ‘Tis a fairytale story, to be sure, but a day is coming soon where I will need her as she was, deadly and warm and skilled, not the emotional wreck she is now.”

    She sighed, and she suddenly seemed very, very old. “She is an unwitting pawn in a game she cannot comprehend, and like any good pawn, she needs to be backed by a knight, until she can become a Queen.” Her electric-blue gaze centered on Fox once more. “I would have you become that knight, lady Foxglove. Go with her. Lead her. Teach her how to do what you do, how to kill and fight again, and learn from her in turn. Her aid and companionship, I think, will be worth it.”

    The woman vanished again, reappearing leaning on the side of the GMC Phoenix. “Do it because it is not her fault she is the way she is. Do it because you haven’t had a friend in two decades. Do it because she is a good soul and worth helping, and because her help may be instrumental in the coming crisis. And if that is not enough,” She straightened and bowed to Fox, then finished, “Do it because I can get you a Chevelle four fifty four with original parts.”

    Then she was gone, leaving a knowing smirk behind for half a second, and Fox was alone in the fading night.

  • foxglove

    November 14, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    Foxglove stood there listening silently, showing no change in her features as the woman spoke. That was, until the Chevelle was mentioned, and her eyebrows raised in interest.

    But before she could ask the Stranger where in the nine hells she had gotten something like that, she had disappeared, and this time she didn’t reappear again. The elf gave another sigh as she pushed herself free from the piece of drek she’d been using as a back brace, taking her keys and unlocking the car. Out of habit, she disengaged the alarm, kicked herself for a split second for doing something unnecessary, then found herself surprised to realize that it had actually still been engaged.

    That woman had managed to pop the hood, then close it again without setting it off.

    What the hell was she?

    And what was all that about her wanting me to be a knight, of all things? She thought to herself as she went about her usual routine of checking all secured compartments, fluid levels, lines, and air filters. A knight in chrome armor, huh? Hah, right. Foxglove wasn’t a knight, not by a long shot. She wasn’t a protector, she was a killer. Cold, calculating, thorough, and she’d trained hard to become so.

    Then again…the Stranger had asked her to pass that killers’ knowledge on to Misery. That she could do. Though she couldn’t make any promises that she would stick with the Banshee if the girl proved to be too much of a headache.

    Foxglove closed the hood and snapped the bonnet pins back into place, performed one last visual scan, and gave the Phoenix a loving pat before engaging the alarm system again. She turned to walk back toward the hotel. The car keys were treated to a toss and a catch before they were placed back into her pocket, and she climbed into the cubicle next to Misery’s. Like it or not, this girl was apparently now her responsibility. And even though she hadn’t outright agreed to the terms of the job, a job it was, and she would do it to the best of her ability.

    The elf made sure all was locked, removed her Predator from its shoulder holster, and settled into the tiny bed on her back with the pistol resting across her chest and one hand laying over the custom grip. She took a deep breath, held it for a brief moment, and let it out slowly as she closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep.


  • brickyardbabe

    November 16, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    The fading day found Misery in the parking lot by the coffin hotel. Real estate wasn’t exactly at a premium on the outskirts of Damascus sprawl, so even a shoddy coffin motel could have enough ground space to put in a lot. It was cracked and old, concrete rather than asphalt, and the only cars in it were Foxglove’s Phoenix, a purple Conestoga trailblazer, and a battered Mercury from the late twenty fifties with tinted windows.

    Misery was in workout clothes, tight black volleyball shorts and a close-fitting red tank that showed off the nanotattoos at the small of her back, the back of her neck, her right thigh, and left calf. They were all stylized creatures from japanese myth today, and all glowed an iridescent blue. Incongruously, she wore an alice band hiding trode links in her blonde hair and glowing blue contacts. She was moving slowly, unsteadily, the movements of someone trying something new. Somehow, she still managed to look graceful and pretty in the fading light.

    Misery, of course, didn’t see all of this. Her contacts were showing a beginning lesson on Hapsum-Do, and the trode net was broadcasting words and images into her brain, muscle memory echoes and all the little lessons that usually come from a sensei, while the contacts provided glowing lines and spectral images to follow in order to direct her. She’d never learned martial arts, never learned more than street fighting and even that only at a very basic level, but she’d come into possession of the high-end tutorsoft and on a whim, decided to slot it.

    She’d been out here about three hours now.

    Misery looked more human today, less gaunt and more flushed with life and with good reason. She’d fed during the day, a macho asshole who’d talked to her like a child and looked at her like a piece of meat. She’d needed to feed, and he seemed like as good a target as any. She’d only intended to take a little, enough to keep her from starving, but when she’d gone out to his car, hoping to lure him into a compromising position so she could feed, he’d grabbed her by the throat and tried to drag her into the back seat.

    She’d drained him dry and left his body in the trunk.

    The tutorsoft had been in his things. So had three sets of women’s workout clothing, a credstick with two hundred and twelve nuyen, and three ID’s, two of them even real. She tried not to think too hard about how he’d gotten them.

    She also tried not to think to hard about how easy it was to kill him.

    And so she stood outside, twenty meters from a corpse she created, wearing a dead woman’s clothes, slotting a martial arts chip because she couldn’t sleep.

    Was her life always this fragged up, or was this a new development since she’d lost her memory?

  • foxglove

    November 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Foxglove arose early in the evening, slipping out of the coffin-cubicle-thing and holstering her Predator. She stretched, silver eyes scanning the place as she wracked her brain for where she could get some decent ‘kaf, only to have them fall on a familiar figure in a rather unfamiliar state.

    She hadn’t pegged Misery as the martial arts sort.

    Still, she was curious, and decided to forego her usual evening routine to lean against the cubicles, arms crossed, and watch. After a while, the elf recognized the style her new companion was learning and, while she didn’t actually know it herself, was noting a few errors in the girl’s technique. This was a style Foxglove couldn’t learn, but every martial art had the same general basics.

    I would have you become that knight, lady Foxglove… Teach her how to do what you do, how to kill and fight again, and learn from her in turn.


    Fox pushed off from the cubicles, making her way leisurely over to the other from behind her, arms still over her chest. “Your stance is too wide.” She stated flatly once she was close enough to be heard but still out of arms reach.


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