Shadowrun Portland

Recovering

Janet took a deep breath to compose herself. The plan was already in motion, as much as she wanted this night to be over she had a job to do and friends to avenge. She sucked in a hit of Jazz and lit an almost comically fat cigar. “You sure this will work Des?” she asked. The Blonde’s voice came across in the clipped and inherently condescending tone Janet was starting to like “Of course I’m not sure, but we either do this now or go on the run and neither of us has those kinds of resources. Besides-”

Janet cut her off with their mantra “We Do Not Run.” They’d been the words of Janet’s successful street gang, the ‘Wall Shadows’ up until seven hours ago when the others had been massacred in by some new street operation. Now the gang responsible was partying it up in the local whore house of choice, the Dusky’s Dawn. Two dozen armed assholes in a secure criminal business with no idea what was coming for them.
Janet took another puff off her Cigar and made sure her gang colors were showing past the armor before stepping out of the AmeriCar and grabbing her shotgun. The air was damp, with smog hanging low enough to give every dreary streetlamp a halo. The smell of something dead or acidic prevailed as she left Desirae slumped in the car and headed into the club. She donned the glasses Desi had given her and watched the decker work in her periphery. She was halfway across the parking lot when the door opened and four guards came out with their weapons in hand
. Anred, the orkish head of security and a known mage, walked out and met Janet in the parking lot “Hear you’ve had a rough night sexy, heard your on the down and out these days.”
“Half true, I’m a bit down, but a couple dead bodies shy of out.” She responded, stopping her advance as he blocked her path.
“Your not goin in their, omae. No way I’m letting you shoot up my bosses business.”
“Anred the fuckers who wiped out my gang are in their, celebrating the murder of my friends, theirs no fuckin way I’m letting that slide. So you either get out of my way or I’ll geek you and your boys and do it anyway.”
At that a few of the thugs on the stairs raised their weapons, but Anred waved them down “Easy guys. Come on J, don’t be like. You know I’d help you out,” his eye’s sank to checking her out and he developed a decidedly lude tone “For the right price.”
Janet almost shot him right there. No sooner had she decided to do it, then a message from Desi appeared on her HUD, she read it quickly and grinned, returning her attention to Anred
“You know, Any, I might have thought about it at one point in time, but now that your banging your bosses niece, I think I’ll pass.”
Anred blanched. “H-How do you- I mean- What are you talking about?” Janet stepped up, inches from his face “Walk me to the man in charge of these fuckers or your boss will know you been banging his favorite girl. Just me, in my mind, I don’t like you odds if hat happens.”
Anred took a step back and Janet beamed with pride as he waved off his men and walked her in. The clubs interior was a two story room with a mural painted on a vaulted ceiling depicting a party ororgy. A wraparound second story overlooked the courtyard where everyone could congregate. Many a fortune had been won or lost at the card tables and dice games here, Janet had to admit that she’d miss the place. living in the poor and hostile world of the Chicago Containment Zone was a constant struggle for survival, rival gangs and magically mutated wildlife were a constant threat and Janet had always loved coming here to blow off steam. A pang of loss hit her again as she realized she had no more crew to party with, even if she wasn’t about the get kicked out forever, the place would never have felt right without the other Shadows. Anred lead her around to one side, and through one of the many doors on the outside of the courtyard, only in stead of another room for paid sex, this one opened onto a staircase leading down.
She pinged Desi and a moment later received a response Desi’s matrix Icon flitted invisibly ahead.
>You good?
Janet tapped out her messages view her commlink and made a mental note to get a sub dermal mik.
>Think so, going underground?
>Looks like a safe room, security is tight and I see a few really nice ‘links in there
>Gotta be our guy, no messing around now, I’m going strait for the prize
>Got you covered girlfriend
Janet missed a step and almost fell, but Anred didn’t turn. Breathlessly she wrote back
>Girlfriend?
>You asked me out on a date, thought that’s how that worked. Besides, we might die. Let me have this one
Janet was drawn away from this huge change as Anred knocked on a massive steel door in the basement. It opened after a moment and the sounds of partying echoed from within. Janet saw red and pushed past Anred, slamming the butt of her shotgun into his gut. Her eye’s landed on a burly human with a face tattoo and time slowed down as they locked eye’s. His name was Jerrik Iriqo and he’d been making a name for himself in human trafficking for months. He’d let the hit against the Shadow’s HQ, and as Janet took aim at his bare chest she knew he recognized her, and what was happening.
Then everything happened at once.
Iriqo’s goons grabbed weapons, as did the Dusky’s security, but as they brought their guns to bear many sparked and fizzled, some emitting loud Pops as Desirae fried their Matrix linked parts with harmful code. Janet squeezed the trigger with a maniac grin, biting down on her cigar as Jerrik’s chest collapsed and blood sprayed out behind him. Janet grinned around at all the unarmed gangers, the memory of her own gang fresh in her mind, and opened fire on the lot of them. Most tried to hide behind the rooms many beds, a few took the girls they’d paid for as human shields. All met the same fate.
When everyone was dead she turned back to the door and ran. Anred was already gone, probably scrapping the record of his involvement in the massacre. He’d always been more interested in covering his own ass.
She cleared the stairs and stepped back into the main room with a grand swagger, shotgun over her shoulder. The noise had not gone unnoticed and most of the guests looked at the blood-soaked twenty-something with a combination of awe and dread. Janet soaked it up as she puffed her Cigar and walked back to the car.
Desi Jacked out as they pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards Janet’s apartment. “Security got locked in their rooms, no chance of persuit. That was good.” she said with a slight smile.
“Fuck right it was good, we got our payback and everyone knows we are not to be fucked with. We are the Wall Shadows and we Do Not Run, that still means something. We can rebuild we-” she caught herself and for a moment the tightness in her chest seemed unbearable. She covered her mouth to stifle whatever she was feeling as the full realization of her loss hit her for the first time. Before she had been focused on revenge but now was alone with the crushing weight of fourteen good friends, all dead. Her life’s work destroyed. After a moment she spoke “We did what we had to. The crime called for no less. We should have burnt the whole fucking house down. We can’t know If that was all of them, their might-”
“No.” Desi’s voice was still a little condescending, she always was, but now carried a tone of sympathy and compassion “We did what we needed to tonight, and the Wall Shadows are dead.” The car rolled to a stop at Janet’s apartment and turned off “We only have each other now.”
Janet nodded, the truth of Desi’s words sinking in. She felt a little guilty for thinking it, but Janet was glad it had been Desi who’d made it out with her, not to mention that their date that afternoon had been the reason they weren’t at the safe house when it was hit “Come up with me, we shouldn’t be alone tonight.”
Desi nodded as her seat belt retracted “If someone comes after us, our chances are better together.”she said by way of agreement.
Janet smiled a little as she opened the door to her building. As Desi walked through the taller Janet gently pinned Desi to the wall, bending in for their first kiss “Not what I meant Flower Girl.”
-
Desi stopped the recording and opened her eyes. Janet was laying on the bed, she had a book in front of her but clearly wasn’t reading it. Desi tossed the BTL chip onto the desk, the noise grabbing Janet’s attention at once.
For a moment the two simply stared at each other. Janet was gaunt and sickly after her brief incarceration, and the crucifying by the cult had left her hands and feet almost useless till they healed. Desi, on the other hand, looked worn and miserable, the fatigue of the battle the day before weighed heavily on her and she’d had nightmares all the night before. Janet spoke first “I had to show you the recording, to prove I was serious about getting clean, about quitting the chips. I don’t want to keep any more secrets from you.”
“How much longer does it go?” Desi almost hissed, staring at the lump of plastic and memory.
Janet glanced at it “Two minutes, just until we get to the room. You don’t get to see what happenedafter.” Janet lowered her head, the picture of shame.
“How many more?”
“199. 200 were made, premium stuff their I mean-”
“Are you going to tell me the the street value of our first date?” Janet fell silent. For a moment neither moved, then Desi nodded “That’s good. 200 is recoverable, and it’s not like you whored me out sexually, just emotionally.”
Janet responded quickly, trying to have compassion “No, I never meant to,- I mean I didn’t-”
Desi interrupted “Seriously? You sold one of the greatest nights of my life to pay for your drugs, how is that not whoring me?”
Desi stood and walked to the door, her movements mechanical as she held her feelings at bay. She paused and turned as she reached it the door “Is their anything else?”
Janet shook her head “Nothing special. I sold a few gun fights and a party or two, but nothing with you in it.”
Desi nodded and was about to leave when Janet began to cry “I’m sorry Des, I’m so sorry. I just needed to get away from what happened, I had to get away from the Shadows.” Desi watched her for a moment, conflicted in the extreme. She was hurt and angry and wanted desperately to get back to the Matrix where everything made sense. On the other hand, here was Janet, the cause of her pain and the person she cared about most in the world. She’d been trying to do what was right, she’d been trying to make amends. That had to count for something.
Desi came back to the bed and climbed in next to her, holding Janet’s head in her lap as the older girl really let go for the first time since they’d known each other.
“It’ll be ok… we’ll be ok.” and Desi held her till both were asleep.
-
Janet slept late the next day, so Desi took the time to work. She put out the world that she was looking for the BTL chip Janet had shown her. She was still angry that Janet had sold that memory, but some part of her mind pointed out that she’d been angry for a long time now. She pushed aside self-reflection and started making offers and threats against the criminal underworld to bring the chips back or see them destroyed.
Results varied, but enough people understood what Desi could do to their operations, let alone their lives, that a general recall of that memory went out.
For a few minutes Desi thought about messing with Palmer but she had forgiven him for shooting her after she’d punched him, and the rest she’d mostly forgiven after he patched up Janet. He might be a creep but for now he was their creep and a useful one at that. Janet joined her with breakfast as she tried to come up with creative ways to mess with the Doc in the future.
They ate their eggs and bacon quietly until Desi broke the silence “What about the stuff before theraid? Our first date and the clubhouse?”
Janet looked from her food “Recording the memory puts you in the moment, I couldn’t go back to the safe house. As for our date,” a twinkle and a smile appeared on Janet’s face “Do you remember what a disaster that was? I’d have had to pay people to watch it.” They both laughed a little, a level of comfort and happiness restored.
“I remember you in slacks and a dress shirt.” Said Desi, recalling the late afternoon almost a year before.
Janet made a face “Don’t remind me, had this crazy idea that we would be ‘classy’ and, oh god, what was the restaurant?”
“The Fashion. Place was cleaner then the Archology and lit by crystal. God it was pretty…” Janet nodded “And I was so out of place, Mohawk and sidearm, must have set off every alarm in the place…”
“…and the staff kept giving me dirty looks because I’d been caught in the rain and my dress was soaked…”
“…and we both smelled like the Zone. Dirty and rude and broke and nervous as hell. I was a wreck the whole time.”
Desi smiled “I don’t remember that. I remember talking about the world, and our pasts, and our future.”
Janet sat back “I don’t remember what we said. I remember you talking to me, and me being so excited and so scared that I was going to do something wrong, and so happy with every minute that passed. I also remember us bitching out the waitress for giving us lip, not getting our food and getting thrown out by security. And I remember standing in the rain, grinning cause we’d stolen someone else’s food. I remember looking in your eyes and knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are the one. I didn’t believe in love before I met you.”
And for a moment, Desi allowed herself the treat of forgetting some unpleasantness in her life.

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