Hail Hail the Gang’s All Here (Part 3)

Posted: October 7, 2015 in Neo-Anarchist Podcast, Shadowrun

The rainy Chicago pre-dawn gives way to a morning that is bright and crisp.  The smells of soykaf and various breakfast foods drift in on the wind.  After spending the night going over schematics, intel, and building plans, Joules decides to spend the morning getting to know everyone.  The elven street samurai grabs a 8 cups of soykaf , Woofles, her pet hellhound, and heads over to the staging area that Eric da MAJ and S. Ragnar F. have set up.  She loops Woofles’ leash around the doorknob, gives the command to stay, and heads upstairs. Some of the runners, like the decker r00t, are occupied with security and surveillance so she keeps the exchange to a polite introduction and a cup of hot soykaf. Joules’ morning cheeriness grates on Putt-Dawg’s nerves, but after sharing a few glasses of hurlg and swapping some horribly graphic war stories, the ork street samurai’s animosity wanes.

“I had no idea that a flame thrower would still work while shoved down someone’s gullet. That’s funny!” giggles Joules, finishing off her drink. “I gotta remember that one.”

“Most weapons will,” responds Putt-Dawg after draining his glass. “But ya gotta be sure that you clean ’em off while they’re still wet or you’ll be spending all the nuyen ya just made on a new one. Gets expensive.”

Joules smiles. “So-ka!  After we get Opti out, you gotta tell me the one with the go-ganger wannabe and the pressure washer.”

“Only if you’re buying,” replies Putt-Dawg, waving the empty hurlg bottle.

She nods and heads downstairs, where Drivey and Deadeye have set up a temporary shop.  Carefully moving to the outer wall, Joules’ gets Deadeye’s attention, pointing to a cup holder with cups of hot soykaf.  A flying drone in the shape of a skull whizzes over and deftly grabs a cup and brings it back to the workbench.  Deadeye waves a brief thank you before getting back to work.  Drivey on the other hand, put down his tools and walks over, wiping his hands on a rag tied to his toolbelt.

“Thanks. I appreciate it,” grumbles the dwarf, reaching for a cup.  “This isn’t pumpkin flavoured is it?  ‘Round this time everything is pumpkin flavoured.  I hate that drek.”

“Ew. Ew. No,” replies Joules, grimacing. “I have a little more tact than trying to sicken my teammates with that fake pumpkin drek.  Even I can’t stomach that swill and I eat dandelions.”

A chuckle is heard from Deadeye’s workbench.

“Well, thanks for the pick-me up RS,” says Drivey, taking a quick drink. “I gotta get back to work.”  He grabs a wrench, heads over to a tricked out step-van and slides under it.

Smiling broadly, she casts a quick glance at Opti’s HQ a few blocks down the road before grabbing Woofles’ leash and heading across the street to rendezvous with Eric the MAJ and Zippy Toe-Tag, who are sitting at an old concrete picnic area.  Seeing Joules, Eric stops looking at the astral and then sends a file over to her com-link.

“Wiz, Eric! You’ve only been in Chi-town, what, about 12 hours and you already have a dossier on every runner that’s shown up.” says Joules, reading Eric’s file.  “You’ve got everyone organized into scouting, training/equipment, and rest shifts. Hell, you’ve even got Dirtnap clearing out the sewers around the HQ. Taskmaster’s got nothin’ on you!”

“The logistics for bug city are a pain in the ass.  But, this isn’t my first rodeo,” replies Eric with a hit of pride in his voice. He takes a sip of soykaf and continues. “Echo Tree volunteered for the risky task of being the chi-town contact and gatekeeper for all who show up, claiming to want to help Opti. So he’ll be arriving a bit later.”  Eric da MAJ puts his cup down as his tone grows stern and focused. “Still, we won’t be able to keep everyone focused very long. Nor keep a group this size unobtrusive.  As it stands now, focus, food and crash space will hold out about two days, maybe three.”  A frustrated look crosses his face. “And we’re already seeing some antisocial and possibly dangerous behaviour.” He bends down and whispers in Joules’ ear.

“Dia ár sábháil! What do you mean someone was trying to eat a kitten?” roars Joules, her hair flaring orange. She takes a couple of slow, deep breaths, shaking her head.  “Whoa! Sorry about that. Everything just went red and murdery for a moment. Can you point out the bualadh craicinn weenie who was…” She slaps both hands over her mouth as she looses control over her accent.

“Acting boorish,” finishes Zippy offhandedly, barely looking up from his batch of blank skin patches and small collection of vials.

“I’m not going to pretend I understood half of what you just said. But I get it.” Eric gestures to a figure leaning against a derelict building. “He’s on watch duty right now. The troll with the chromed right horn. But watch yourself, Joules.” Eric’s eyes narrow. “Don’t risk the op.”

“It’ll be a teaching moment, I promise. I’ll be right back.”  Joules gently tugs on Woofles’ leash and heads down the street past an unassuming noodle shop near the HQ and hollers down an open manhole. “Oi Dirtnap, can you come with me a second?  Bring a squeaky puppy with you.  You can get back to playing with all the squeaky puppies later.” If any are still alive.

“Ok funny hair stabby lady. All puppies tired anyways,” comes a deep, rumbling voice from the sewer.  A few seconds later a huge troll emerges from the sewer, holding a wriggling devil rat in his hands. “Where Dirtnap going?”

“Just follow me, luv.”  Joules says sweetly.  Man I hate doing this.  It’s mean, but necessary. We can’t risk the rescue for any reason. 

Joules and Dirtnap approach the chromed out troll, while Eric and a bunch of the other runners look on.  Train wreck rubberneck. I’d better make this look good. “Hoi Chummer,” calls out Joules, grinning and waving. “D’ya have a second?”

The troll turns towards them with an arrogant grin, faltering only for a second when he looks up at the wall of troll that is Dirtnap.

“Hello Sweetie,” says Joules, standing about half a meter from him. “I don’t think I’ve met ya yet.  I’m Rainbowsmite. This is my chummer, Dirtnap and my puppy, Woofles.” She extends her hand, smiling.

“Hello shiny horn,” says Dirtnap while petting the squirming devil rat.

“Whatchoo want, grass eater?” says the troll, sneering down at Joules.  Joules’ hair turns aqua as both her arm and jaw drop. Before she can get a word out, Dirtnap steps up, getting right in the the troll’s face.

“No be mean to stabby lady!” snarls Dirtnap, shaking with barely controlled anger.  “You say sorry, RIGHT NOW!”  Joules touches Dirtnap’s arm and gently pulls hims back, her face soft and her voice kind.

“It’s OK Dirtnap.  I heard this gent didn’t know the right way to play with animals, so I came to show him.”  She smiles up at Dirtnap. “Don’t worry, sweetie. I’m a very good teacher.”

“Ohh,” muses Dirtnap, nodding. “Ok. You take puppy, then. Dirtnap go show Tomatoes Dirtnap’s new bag of tricks.”

An image Tomatoes the gnome and Dirtnap the troll hucking grenades at each other flashes in Joules’ mind and she giggles.  “Have fun then. But remember, Tomatoes makes the rules for playing, OK?” she calls after him as Dirtnap lumbers off.

“Now then, back to business,” says Joules, her face cold and her voice taking on a keen edge.  “I don’t know what you’re playing at and quite frankly, I don’t fragging care. Everyone is under orders not to do anything that draws attention or jeopardizes the op. Scan me?”

“You don’t make the rules, keebler,” says the troll, oozing contempt. “I don’t know why everyone’s spooked by this bitch.” he mutters to himself in Or’Zet, looking down at Joules. “She’s just a pansy elf playing at being a killer.

Joules activates her move by wire system and before the troll can blink, she sweeps his leg. As he hits the ground, stunned, she kneels on his chest, placing a cyberspur at his neck. “I’m really good at killing,” she says in Or’Zet, smiling. “You might say it’s my specialty. That and ballroom dancing. But guess which one I can actually make a living at.” Joules does a kip up off the troll’s chest and waits as he gets on his feet.  Deactivating her cybernetics, Joules switches back to English. “So, until we’ve rescued Opti, play nice.”   She brings the squirming devil rat up in front of the troll’s face and casually snaps its neck. “Or else,”  She tosses the devil rat’s body in front of Woofles. “Dev Null.”

Woofles wags his tail happily as a gout of orange red flame erupts from his mouth, incinerating the devil rat corpse.  Joules locks eyes with the troll and whispers “You do anything to that puts this crew or this op at risk and I’ll tell Dirtnap that you stole his puppy. We shiny?”  The troll nods wordlessly, eyes wide.  Joules, satisfied she got the point across, kneels down and gives Woofles a treat plus well deserved head scritch and tummy rub.

As she stands up, Joules hears a smattering of laughter combined with a few claps.  Confused, she turns and sees three figures walking toward the improvised staging grounds.  Woofles yips happily and without warning, takes off running toward them.

“Oh drek! Get back here Woofles! What’s gotten in to you?” calls Joules, running after her hellhound.

Woofles heads straight for the middle figure, a dwarf in a Baltimore Orioles cap with a baseball bat slung over his shoulder.  Joules calls out a warning but then stops, mid-exclamation, utterly confused.  Woofles jumps, putting his paws of the dwarf’s shoulders, and starts licking his face.  The dwarf laughs and scratches Woofles on the head.  Enjoying the attention, Woofles hops down and rolls over, expecting tummy rubs.  “You’re a good dog, aren’t ya?” says the Dwarf, bending down and rubbing the hellhound’s soft belly.

“Well that’s new,” says Joules, completely confused and slightly relieved. “He’s never done that before.”  She walks up to the trio, apologizing profusely, her hair turning a rich Tardis blue. “I am so sorry folks.  He’s never done that, ever.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a way with dogs.  I think this fella likes me,” says the Dwarf, picking up Woofles’ leash. “The name’s Belker. Dog (with a capital D) told me that Crow Boy’s got himself in some serious drek. I’m here to help get him out.  I met these two fine chummers on the way over here.”

Joules sighs in relief and cracks a smile, her hair slowly turning back to her signature bubblegum pink. “It’s awesome to finally put a face to the legend, Belker.  I’m Rainbowsmite.”  She steps forward to shake Belker’s hand and take back Woofles’ leash.

A dignified elf, standing to Belker’s right grins widely and steps forward. “I’m Maverick.  Like from the really old James Garner trids.  Similar skill set as well.”

The human to Belker’s left shifts slightly, moving the deactivated laser axe on his back to a more comfortable position and waves. “Call me Devil Duck. I beat shit with my axe until it stops moving.”

Joules starts giggling. “I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the low ratings that cancel your program.”

“Something like that,” replies Devil Duck, grinning.

“Oh, drek, I almost forgot,” Belker exclaims, interrupting the introductions. “I’m passing on a message from Vendetta Violent that she’s en route and’ll be here tonight.”

“The lead vocalist from Riot Blue?  You’re kidding!” Joules’ eyes widen with surprise. She frantically messages Eric about the new arrivals.

“The very same and no I’m not,” Belker smiles.  “So now that the music’s locked in, when is this party starting anyways?”

Joules thinks for a bit, sends a message to Eric, reads his response, and smiles. “Tomorrow night.”

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