Band Of Chummers

Season 2, Episode 1: Das Boot Camp

This episode marks the beginning of season 2.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2072

Scene 1: Jantico Medical Clinic. The Collective pay a visit to Samuel Perettico for help in removing the tracking device implanted in Lion-O’s right thigh. While under the knife, a knock on the door by Knight Errant Detective Lydia Bowman goes unanswered. Detective Bowman and her partner pick the lock and enter the clinic and encounter the waiting members of the Collective.

After a tense confrontation, Detective Bowman warns that their plan isn’t going to work and that she would help them escape if they agreed to work with her. Lydia Bowman explains that as long as Knight Errant has a fresh material link in the form of a blood sample, they can use ritual magic to track “The Baron.” Bowman says that they need to move before the ritual begins. Realizing they may have no other choice, the Collective agree to play along.

Scene 2: Secret safehouse. Detective Bowman leads the Collective to a small, dirty safehouse that’s not only electrostatically and electromagnetically shielded, but also shielded by a force 10 magic ward. Detective Bowman says this is where Lion-O needs to hide until his blood sample deteriorates to the point where it’s no longer an effective material link. She thinks 48 hours would be enough.

The team gets a moment to collect their thoughts before Detective Bowman returns to share the rest of the plan. She speaks of a mysterious benefactor who is willing to hand wave away all Knight Errant records relating to the team. In exchange for this service, the Collective is asked to go on a deep undercover mission.

Seeing no other way out of this, the Collective accept the mission offer. The team is asked to infiltrate Knight Errant itself and collect evidence that proves their employer’s suspicions about the inner workings of Knight Errant. Each member will be given a new rating 6 SIN and a plane ticket to Detroit so they can attend Knight Errant Training Academy.

The team’s orders are to do as well as they can at the Academy to facilitate their assignment to the secret location that they will need to investigate for the second half of the mission. It is expected that the whole operation will last 4 to 5 months.

Pay for the mission is 10,000 nuyen each on top of the pay the team members will receive while working for Knight Errant.

It’s clear that Detective Bowman is no longer concerned with municipal police work, but believes in a bigger conspiracy theory that something has maliciously infected the very core of Knight Errant. She is willing to put her career on the line to prove it.

Scene 3: Knight Errant Training Academy. The Collective is sent to Detroit to attend Knight Errant Training Academy.. After a short introduction movie to get the recruits pumped up, they take a physical and a psychological exam. The recruits are then given a crew cut and uniforms before being directed to the barracks.

At the barracks, the recruits meet Senior Drill Instructor Tavers and Drill Instructor Sammons. After a short introduction, the Drill Instrucotrs leave, giving the recruits a little time to mingle before bedtime.

The next day, the recruits are physically tested. First up, the recruits are timed as they complete the obstacle course. Recruit Savage and Recruit Boomer tie for the best time. Because Recruit Savage showed leadership in trying to encourage his fellow recruits to do better, he is awarded Squad Leader. Recruit Carly and Recruit Phillip failed to complete the obstacle course.

Next up, the recruits are pitted against one another with pugil sticks to see who is the toughest. In the finals, it comes down to Recruit Rook and Recruit Boomer. Recruit Boomer is denied Squad Leader a second time as Recruit Rook defeats him to become co-Squad Leader with Recruit Savage.

Squad Mates
Boomer Harrison
Narayan Gupta
Olivia Croft
Donny Lee Jenkins
Gamjee Ganders
Tom Brady Jindal
Duc Tran
Snooch Perkins
Jimmy Pike
Carly Vuitton
Zulu Sands

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Episode 9: Summer Camp!
A look into the mind of Felix

This is why I became a Shadowrunner: you never know where you’re going.

After blowing up the club Denver style, Lio—-The Baron invited the group over to his house to celebrate. When I got there, he and Olo were already high off their asses on novacoke talking about how they shared an 18 year-old hooker together. These guys are fricken CRAZY!! Naturally I had to get high too. Then something weird happened: They started to talk about “teaming up more”………… I…..I think they want to share a hooker with me…. Jesus Azteca Christ these guys are wild!!

Anyway, Melora and Zer0 showed up and they weren’t happy with me.. Apparently, Melora and The Baron needed this Kaz guy alive.. I’d messed up the team big time… Zer0 called me a douche… that guy just has a way of reaching me and I cried, yo’…… I’m so glad I have such a strong family of Shadowrunners. They all hugged me and gave me another chance…Especially Melora… she let me cup her butt for a full 20 minutes… Something to look in on later…

Now stronger than ever, my new family and I decided to take The Baron to the dentist. This dentist sure looks familiar…
I was minding my own business and eating crackers in the janitor’s room like I always do when suddenly there was some loud noise and Olo called me over. Apparently this soldier team wants to help us with something. They take us back to this really nice apartment and told us to wait. This badass chick comes back and told us that if we go to summer camp, she could fix The Baron’s and Melora’s problem… Denver is weird and I love it.

Cut to: 1,000 miles away and a buzz haircut later, the gang and I are at camp in Detroit! This is so cool. The counselor is really mean though…I literally peed a little…

The first day we did an obstacle course and I WON!! Melora won the giant Q-tip fight tournament and now we’re both squad leaders! This is just like the movies! I found my rival. I found my summer crush. And I’m spending this all with my best friends! What could go wrong???!!

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Episode 8: Hardcore Felix
Felix decompressing after the club

Man today was friggin fun!

So fun, I treated myself to AzTaco Bell’s Crunch Wrap Supreme Combo© afterwards. I can’t tell you how great this thing tastes. Let me break it down for you:

At the center of this crunch wrap is a big disc of fried tortilla chip. This not only adds the much needed “crunch” to the wrap but also provides a base for the other ingredients to rest on as well background corn flavor.

On one side of the disc, is a thick layer of their hot delicious beef with the proprietary AzTaco Bell Seasoning© and melty nacho cheese.

To balance out the heavy meat and cheese, the other side of the crunchy disc features “supreme” sour cream, fresh diced tomatoes, and cool shredded lettuce. wow.

Around all of this wraps a soft, chewy flour tortilla that’s been pressed on AzTaco Bell’s special grill to seal in the wrap and add a little more crunch. Once you bite into it, everything mixes in your mouth and each flavor is perfect. I can’t believe they allow me to pay money for this. The Crunch Wrap Supreme is the ultimate portable Mexican meal.

Goddammit, I need to share this with my teammates… speaking of which…..where are they?

Oh, I met up with a sloot and blew up a building today!

God I love AzTaco Bell.

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Mellora's Journal - Episode 8: Chasing the Dragon
Dirty Work

The floor is slick with substances I’d rather not think about, and treacherous for my stiletto heels.

Beneath me, I hear “Katie Kaboom” simpering in the bouncer’s arms. I grit my teeth, roll my eyes, and simper back. “It’s okay honey, I’ll be right back, omg this is horrible!”

This must be some kind of commentary on my life in general. Olo and Lion-O get stoned and serviced by Katie Kaboom and — who was I supposed to be? Oh, right. Jessica Cakes. On the other hand, I get propositioned by an elf poser with floppy ears. And now I get to climb through Felix’s (literally!) bloody mess trying to salvage the entire operation.

Everything upstairs is in shambles. Blood and body parts, smoke and the strobes from the fire alarms. The room had been small — it looked like a bolt hole. Kaz was a sniper, he’d value his gun above all else.

And oh yeah, I lost my gun because of this mess.

Anyway, sniper = gun. No way he’d have it in another location. I rifle through the meagre remaining items. Cardboard box. Unlikely. Suitcase. I ran through possibilities… break-down assassin’s weapon. Maybe he’s got one of those fancy briefcase guns. The first suitcase was unlikely, but at this point I had to hurry.

I slip and slide my way over to the blasted hole in the floor. “Katie! Katie! Here’s your suitcase!” I toss it down and it lands with a thud.

“Oh! My stuff! You found it! Is there anything else!”

“Yes there is and you are so lucky we’re best friends forever!” I call back and resume my search.

Desperate, I rifle through the cardboard box. Nothing. My eye catches another briefcase. That’s more like it. Fine leather finish (a bit bloody now), but hard shell. And oh yes, jackpot! A biometric lock.

Biometric. Damn.

“You’re really really lucky I love you so much Jessie!” I call down. “I’ve almost got it!”

Biometric… there has to be… Ah yes. A finger.

I toss down the second case and stuff one of Kazuya Hitomi’s severed fingertips into… Right. Club dress. No pockets. I place it in my cleavage, and with a quick readjustment, hop down to the first floor so that “Katie” and I can make our escape.

From a block away, Olo and I gaze at the ruin of Club Karma, emergency lights glowing in the smoky haze. My new dress is a torn, bloody ruin; and I think I have gray matter under my fingernails. I don’t want to think about what I’ve got in my cleavage.

I bite back what I want to say, and instead tell him something more important. “Felix has to learn how to lay low, or he’s a liability. Our contacts are going to dry up.”

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Episode 8: Chasing the Dragon Recap

Monday, February 21st, 2072

Prologue: The Collective are contacted by Lady Jade . She apologises for not being in contact. She says she was protecting Takeshi Modori. Lady Jade wants the team to find Kazuya Hitomi so they can confirm if he was the one who murdered Catherine Westmore.

Scene 1: Regency Tech Center. The Collective arrive at the Regency Tech Center at 6 pm sharp to receive a job offer. A tense and agitated Ms. Johnson gets straight to the point and asks the team to hunt down Takeshi Modori because she believes him to be a the killer of Catherine Westmore. The team quickly figures out that Ms. Johnson is Donna Westmore. They keep this information to themselves.

Donna Westmore agrees to pay the team 3,000¥ up front with 5,000¥ more on delivery of Takeshit Modori. She insists that he be kept alive so she can interrogate him herself.

Felix makes some hurtful remarks and the rest of the team tries to contain him. Zer0 tries to hack into Felix’s brand new Hermes Ikon commlink. Zer0 fails twice, giving Felix two marks on Zer0’s cyberdeck. Felix then uses Zer0’s cyberdeck to send more hurtful remarks to Donna Westmore. Olo uses magic to coarse Felix out of the hotel room to stop him from torturing poor Donna Westmore. The Collective then excuse themselves.

A call from Lady Jade informs the team that she doesn’t know where Kazuya may be hiding, but Lin Yao, manager of Klub Karma, and member of the White Lotus Triad, would know.

After some quick calls to contacts, the team learns that Lin Yao is someone you can make deals with if it’s in her best interest. The team is also led to believe that Kazuya bought his protection with either lots of nuyen or some item. They also learn that the Yakuza want to get their hands on Kazuya and that Lin Yao is risking a war between the two syndicates.

Scene 2: Klub Karma. The Collective agree to do a quick recon mission at Klub Karma. The club is packed and the music is blasted through the enormous speakers. Everyone seems to be having a great time. Most of the team decided to go in unarmed while Felix tries to sneak in through the backdoor.

Olo does a quick astral projection of the two-story building, learning the astral aura of passion as he catches several couples in carnal pleasure. There is a ward on the east section of the second floor that hides what the team assumes to be something important.

Felix tries to get the drop on the guy standing out in the back alley. Felix uses a gun to defeat the guy’s fists. The backdoor opens to Felix’s surprise and another fight ensues. Felix is victorious after a couple more shots from his Ares Predator. He enters Klub Karma and attempts to loot the manager’s office after dismissing some underaged girl who was caught by club security.

The Collective try to blend in. Zer0 eats dumplings with An Peng, Mellora spies on some Wuxing corpies, Olo denies an elf poser’s plea for help, Lion-O gets hit on by Katie Kaboom and Jessie Cakes. It appears that the only way to get to the second floor is through the elevator.

Olo buys a couple sake bombs from the bar but fails to talk his way past the elevator guard. The team notices that couples are allowed to take the elevator to the second floor. Olo and Lion-O agree to Katie and Jessie’s advances so the foursome are allowed to go to the second floor.

Felix doesn’t find anything interesting in the manager’s office. He pickpockets an inebriated stranger in the hallway and finds a dead stuffed mouse, and a live mouse. Felix pockets both mice.

Zer0 gets the contact information for Lin Yao from An Peng.

In an upstairs bedroom, Lion-O and Olo enjoy Katie and Jessie’s company for a good 30 minutes during which they all partake in a little novacoke. Lion-O and Olo become eskimo brothers. They pay the nice girls for their time before exiting the room and make an attempt on the warded area. Lion-O, with Olo’s help, talks his way into a meeting with Lin Yao.

Lin Yao doesn’t trust Lion-O and asks him to beat up An Peng to prove that he’s on her side. Lion-O and the team decide it’s not worth the trouble and the meeting ends abruptly. Lion-O is kicked out of the club.

The rest of the team save for Felix decides to regroup and plan their next step.

Felix, however, presses on and tries to work his way to the warded area. Felix tries to talk his way past a guard but fails and a kung fu fist fight breaks out. Felix wins easily with the aid of some kamikaze drugs that he inhaled right before the fight started.

Still high on kamikaze, Felix makes his way through the ward. He knocks and the first door and lo and behold, Kazuya Hitomi opens the door. They exchange pleasantries before throwing down. Neither score a meaningful hit in the first exchange and both back off find cover.

Felix uses a fistful of plastic explosives to blast down the door and wall Kazuya was using for cover. While waiting for the smoke to clear, another triad member appears down the hallway and forces Felix to take cover again. When Felix sees movement from the rubble, he tosses the last of his plastic explosives on a stunned Kazuya Hitomi, nailing his exact spot and detonating it, causing Kazuya to explode into chunky salsa.

Felix hears more voices coming his way, so he grabs Kazuya’s pistol and jumps into the hole in the floor made by the blast. He lands in the men’s bathroom on the first floor, encountering An Peng who is just exiting a bathroom stall. An Peng recognizes Felix. Felix tries to con his way past An Peng, but fails. Felix makes a run for the exit and An Peng, realizing that Felix is much faster than him, slings a Knockout spell at Felix. Felix resists and gets away.

Scene 3: Aftermath. Mellora and Olo realize what just happened and know they don’t have much time to act. The team needs evidence that proves Kazuya is the sniper who killed Catherine. Olo casts two Physical Masks spells to disguise the two of them into Katie Kaboom and Jessie Cakes.

They talk their way past some triad members to reach Kazuya’s bloody mess. Mellora has to make a climbing roll to reach the second floor. After some furious searching, Mellora finds two locked suitcases that could contain the murder weapon. Realizing that one of the suitcases has a biometric recognition system lock, Mellora looks for and finds a dismembered finger that would open the suitcase.

Luck is on the team’s side as the finger will come to open up the suitcase revealing the Ares Desert Strike sniper rifle that killed Catherine Westmore.

Scene 4: Knight Errant station in CAS. Lion-O returns from his assignment with Kazuya’s sniper rifle with hopes that it would be enough to fulfill his end of the bargain. Lion-O isn’t surprised to learn that Chief Bujold demands more from him. She’s not satisfied that the sniper rifle is enough to pin the Catherine Westmore murder on Kazuya and wants Lion-O to bring in Takeshi Modori for questioning. She gives him 12 hours to get the job done, but before he is allowed to leave the station, Knight Errant takes a fresh blood sample.

Scene 5: Lion-O’s house. With all five members present, the team has a long discussion/intervention with Felix, asking him to be more of a team player. Felix is unaware of the discord caused by his past transgressions, but is happy to be more cooperative if the team is more open with him.

Payout: 3,000 nuyen retainer
Karma Gain: 6 Karma.
Notoriety gain: +1 for blowing up Klub Karma
Faction changes: -1 with the White Lotus Triad
Contacts gained: Zhang Wong (Connections 2/ Loyalty 3), Junko Tetsuya (Connections 3/ Loyalty 3), Olo and Lion-O gain Katie Kaboom (Connections 2/Loyalty 1)
Other Items gained: Ares Desert Strike rifle, a suitcase full of fine articles of male clothing, Ares Predator V pistol, Live mouse, Kazuya’s dismembered finger
Items lost: total of 400 nuyen for cover charge, 400 nuyen for services of Katie Kaboom and Jessie Cakes, bullets from Felix’s gun, plastic explosives, 1 dose of kamikaze, Ares Desert Strike rifle, Kazuya’s dismembered finger, Lion-O’s commlink/fake SIN/fake licenses

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You're friendly neighbourhood Olo's log Feb 2072
Funneriffic February (The Flip Side)

Am I trusting people for the first time? Am I actually having fun amidst all the violence and bloodshed. This world is so dangerous. And I can’t save everyone though I would. What’s worse is that I am almost directly responsible for the deaths of three men. Three men that would have been dead had I not been there, but had I not been there more may have died.

So Hah. How about that. I’m such a bloody effing hero, right?

Hah HAH. They think I have morals. Some of them even respect my ethics. I’m a liar. I’m a cheater. I’ve bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. You can’t change nature. And I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I CAN live with it…

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Mellora's Journal - Episode 7.5
Ravens and Drones

The raven came again last night.

Waves crashed against a rocky shoreline, and the mist was thick and wet. I could taste the salt of the ocean, feel the chill on my skin, down to my bones. The raven perched on a spar of driftwood, eyeing me speculatively.

As if I was supposed to know what it wanted.

Waking from the dream, I was calm, but perplexed. This wasn’t a night terror, and for that I was grateful. The great black bird may unsettle me a little, but he wasn’t threatening.

With a sigh, I rolled over in bed and pulled a pillow over my head to block out the greying dawn.

-

The next morning, I pulled my van into the garage and fired up the little Evo Proleterians we purchased. I set up the RCC the way Lion-O showed me, and the little droids and Cavendish were ready to help me work on the car.

My first attempt was a disaster — I bricked the manual override module when my screwdriver came too close to a resistor and arced lightning death through the circuitry. I sat on the shop floor, staring at my failure, for a long time. Disgusted, I tossed the thing into the recycler.

This wasn’t my strong suit. I should probably leave it to the professionals. I thought about Lion-O and his easy way with mechanics. Then I thought: What Would Lion-O Do?

He probably wouldn’t give up, and dammit, I wanted to do this myself. I took auto shop in school. I hung out with Grandpa in his shop when I was a kid. These stupid mods aren’t that hard.

Resolved, I had Cavendish run to the store to pick up another module.

Hours later, after lots of grease under my fingernails and a few scraped knuckles, I had the thing working. Well, the droids helped me get it working. The sense of accomplishment was satisfying.

Sure, it took me a ridiculously long time to get the mods done, but by the end of a few days I had the rigger interface installed, plus 3 strategically placed gun ports. Working in the shop didn’t give me quite the same rush as a good run or bike ride, but was therapeutic in its own way.

I liked it. Next up: the mechanical arms.

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Episode 7: An Ounce of Prevention Recap

Monday, February 14th, 2072

Scene 1: Jantico Medical Clinic. The Collective receive a call from a happy fixer named Izzy about a job for Dr. Johnson at the Jantico Medical Clinic.

A few members arrive early and are asked by the nurse to wait in the waiting area while the Doctor is busy. Olo does some quick astral projection scouting. In the waiting area, Felix puts on his lucha mask and makes an aggressive move towards the children of the families who are also in the waiting area. Olo tries to cast knockout on Felix but it’s not enough to stop him. Lion-O pulls out his Defiance EX Shocker and knocks out Felix cold.

The unamused nurse scolds the team for “roughhousing” while examining Felix for serious injuries. Felix is then placed in a Transys Steed, a motorized wheelchair drone. The children found the whole incident quite amusing. Little Jessica tries to make a friend in Lion-O and talks to him about the “bad bugs.”

When Dr. Johnson is ready, the nurse escorts the team to a locker room where the team disarms and puts on sea-foam green smocks and masks. On the way to the operating room, the team encounters a ghoul-like volunteer, named Argyle, handling medical coolers.

Inside the operating room, Doc Tico is finishing up surgery and offers the Collective a job. He needs at least 10 vials of Cryosec, a drug that prevents patients from going into shock. That much Cryosec in Denver can only be found at the PCC DocWagon Facility. Doc Tico also offers more nuyen if the team can retrieve extra vials of Cryosec.

The Collective agree to take on the job.

Scene 2: DocWagon PCC Facility. The first day, Zer0 hacks into some hospital drones to allow Lion-O to take a peak around the facility. Zer0 also hacks into the main network, getting his hands onto patient files, personnel records, shipping schedules, and inventories. The team learns that the Cryosec is stored in the medical supply room located on the third floor of the main building.

The next day, the Collective put their plan into operation. Zer0 edits the facilitie’s personnel records to give Olo access as a doctor, Mellora access as a nurse, and Felix access as a maintenance worker. To get Lion-O in the hospital, the team shoots him in the foot so that Lion-O can use his contract to ask for medical assistance from DocWagon.

Zer0 makes sure that Olo and Mellora are assigned to care of Lion-O in an operating room on the third floor just across from the medical supply room. While Felix goes to the breakroom on the first floor.

The plan starts off smoothly as Olo places an order for Cryosec, Zer0 edits the order, and Lion-O operates the Criado Juan drone to place 10 vials of Cryosec into the pneumatic tube delivery system.

Meanwhile, Felix encounters a couple of DocWagon employees looking to relieve some stress with some drugs and maybe some hanky panky in the break room. Felix condemns their unprofessional conduct with physical violence, knocking out both employees and then taking their box of recreational drugs.

Sirens go off and the third floor is put into lockdown as wounded inmates/patients from the nearby Fort Logan Mental Health Hospital are admitted to the hospital under heavy guard. The patients were captured after a failed escape.

The Collective ignore the patients’ pleas for help and use them as a distraction to get extra vials of Cryosec. Dustoo, one of the patients tries to escape again only to get caught in the stairwell. Olo and Felix find two guards beating him. Dustoo pleads for help but Olo helps escorts him back into custody. Olo does heal him before leaving.

During the heist, they notice a curious hard case sitting on a shelf in the corner of the medical storeroom. Felix is sent to retrieve the hard case. He manages to sneak past the DocWagon employees and sneak into the medical storeroom with the help of Zer0 unlocking the door. Felix then slips out of the hospital after Olo hands him 10 vials of Cryosec. Olo and Mellora then talk their way past the guards with the rest of the vials.

Lion-O is released from the hospital the next day.

Scene 3: Jantico Medical Clinic. The Collective return to Doc Tico with 30 vials of Cryosec. The Doctor is quite pleased to see that no one was seriously injured. Before Doc Tico could finish paying the team, he gets into an heated argument with Argyle in the hallway. He then returns and pays each team member 6,000¥ for a job well done.

Payout: 6,000¥ for each team member as payment for 30 vials of Cryosec.
Karma Gain: 6 points, another 4 points to spend on Knowledge skills.
Notoriety gain: None
Faction changes: +1 Faction with the Vory
Contacts gained: Doc Tico (Connections 2, Loyalty 1), Izzy (Connections 3/Loyalty 1)
Other Items gained: Case with a encrypted datachip, Felix gained a box of recreational drugs.
Items lost: 1,000¥ for one day in Intensive Care, a bullet

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Mellora's Journal - Episode 5: The Flip Side (pt 1)
Concessions

I still wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.

Was it the blonde bob that was constantly (but necessarily) flopping in front of my left eye? I shook my head — again — to see clearly down the street. The cut and dye job felt like a concession, like sacrificing my identity yet again. It was, and it did. But it also bought me the time and space to clear my name — again. And to clear the names of my friends.

Deja vu all over again.

My lack of comfort had a lot to do with my lack of a second Colt pistol. Not to mention a good SIN, my rifle, goggles… and well, a lot of other stuff that could be replaced, but would take time.

My hand reached down to touch the stock of the HK-227 I had taken to carrying. The machine gun felt like another concession, another layer of my identity stripped away. Fully automatic chaos was an insult to my sniper’s way of life. I was trained to be precise, efficient, to scoff at those who needed a hailstorm of lead to accomplish what one perfectly-timed shot could do.

But I didn’t have my second pistol, and I felt like I couldn’t generate the firepower needed if the team got into another firefight.

A chill wind whistled around the houses in this struggling suburb of PCC. I wrapped my full-length black duster more tightly around me, and stomped my heavy leather boots to get feeling back into my toes. Another change of style: I had replaced my armored business suit, but this jacket seemed more appropriate to the job. Not to mention how handy it was to conceal the arsenal I kept inside my coat.

Terry (Felix) strode up to the house, and two bruisers moved to intercept.

In retrospect, it was a stupid decision. But seeing that big Russian level a shotgun at Olo’s projection spurred me to act first and think, well, later.

I was reluctant to rely on one Colt, reluctant to use the machine gun, and also reluctant for Olo to see me as a stone cold killer. So I went with the principle of the correct amount of force to achieve desired results. I extended my baton and moved in.

A moment later, Russian One is kissing the pavement. I sweep low with the baton, batting his gun out of reach. He gets up and spits out Slavic curses and tries to menace me with a club. This all would have been more intimidating if his nose wasn’t bleeding and his face didn’t have concrete burn. I hit him again and this time he goes down for good.

Russian Two, however, is a different story. He’s got another short-barrel shotgun and it’s aimed at me.

There was nothing else to do — I bring up the HK and let it rip. Bullets flew, and some even struck the mark. I hoped that I hadn’t hit the neighbor’s cat, or grandma’s crystal collection across the street. Lion-O and Zer0 join in, and in another burst of fire, Russian Two goes down.

Feeling exposed out there on the street, and imagining Grandma peeking through her lace curtains to see what had hit her crystal, I barked at Felix in the link.

Surprise, surprise, no answer. Had there been shots in the house? Was he busy raping the wife? Who knew. Still, he was part of the team and I wouldn’t be accused of not performing due diligence.

I jumped through the shattered kitchen window and found Felix (as Terry) the wife, and Mikhael’s brains on the area rug. A rapid cleanup ensued, and we bundled the Wife, One, and Two into the van and sped out of there before the Vory backup or Puebsec could join the party.

As it turns out, my van is not big enough for a hysterical woman, two Russian mobsters, and Felix.

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Mellora's Journal - Episode 4: Thrash the Body Electric
Cold

Cold.

Panic ate through my insides, like bile rising in my throat. It wasn’t the terror that sunk its claws into my mind, it was the helplessness.

Long-suppressed memories ignited flashbacks that normally plagued my dreams. Except now I was awake, and this was reality. The scent of industrial cleaner used in holding cells. The cold grasp of restraints on my hands. The prod of a baton on my back. They all coalesced and sent me into a fugue state where present and past intertwined. Numb, distant, and shocky, I followed the guards instructions, walked blindly where they directed me.

The algebra of my situation was a simple equation. Knight Errant needed a win, and I was going to be really convenient.

How lucky for them.

They’ll interrogate me soon. I briefly considered playing the hunting rifle angle, but after some consideration decided that there was no point in answering any questions. I felt bad for Lion-O. He was a good friend. I also briefly considered confessing to try to get him cleared. But even that seemed futile, and if I showed interest or concern for Lion-O, they’d jump at the opportunity to use it against me.

Nope. No way out of this one.

Cold sweat dripped down my back. The cold in the air, in my mind chilled me to the bone. I shivered, but there wasn’t enough strength in my limbs to grab the thin blanket on the prison cot.

Cold had its advantages — it made me numb. And once I embraced the numbness, I found I could breathe again. I sat against the wall and closed my eyes, using my breath to focus, to center myself.

Breathe in, breath out. Focus.

My concentration exercises are much more effective with a rifle in my hand. But after some effort, I was able to focus again.

I won’t go back. I won’t be shamed and tortured for some corporation’s benefit. I refuse to give them the satisfaction. There’s always at least one way out.

The cell door ratcheted open. I blinked at the man standing in my cell.

It was Olo. His lips were moving, and the pleasant, modulated tone of his voice washed over me. I squinted at him, trying to calibrate my ears and my eyes to both see and understand him. Confirm, somehow that a friend was standing here. In my cell.

He was running a con. Pretending to be my lawyer. My brain was pretty sluggish, but it became clear that he was suggesting that the best way to save me would be to kill me.

I was okay with that.

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