“Frag! Murphy! If you don’t stop fidgeting, Mazula’s going to open the fragging hatch and drop you out without a fragging line!”, shouted Mazula. God-damn! Bad enough I have to work when there’s real nuyen to be made, but I gotta sit next to the vibrating noob?
“Christ, Maz. Give the kid a break. It’s his first Tac-Drop. It’s just nerves”, said Dwayne from across the VTOL’s cargo bay. “Don’t you remember being jumpy on your first Drop?”
“Shit, Tac-Drop’s a fragging dance through the tulips compared to the Desert Wars.”, griped Mazula. But his partner was right, the kid was probably shitting his pants on this one. Even with full armor, magical backup, and drones on overwatch, a ganger punk with an Uzi could still get lucky and drek-up your life real bad.
Denver, June 2062
I was 17 joy-riding in a stolen pickup truck. I don’t know how they found me, but one of those security companies was dead on my trail, I’d been swerving all over the streets of Denver trying to lose them. Then I caught it out of the corner of my eye, fragging drones! I needed cover, I found it – parking garage. Ditch the truck and run, I thought to myself. All of a sudden, I heard shots fired and the truck’s handling went to shit. Looks like they got a tire. The truck rolled and crashed into the entrance of the parking garage. I bumped my head on the steering wheel and felt dizzy but managed to undo my restraints, open the door and crawl out of the truck. I tried to get up to my feet but everything started going black.
I woke up in a hospital. No windows and I was securely restrained to the bed. There was this buzzing in my ears which sounded like my nervous system working on overdrive. My vision wasn’t normal, it was crystal clear without my glasses. Things were bad, real bad. A guy in a med coat walked in not long after, looked at me and I heard him murmur “He’s conscious”. Then he stared into space, maybe checking my status on the monitoring equipment.
A woman entered, wearing formal business wear, “Good morning, Mr Yiska. Glad to see you have recovered from your surgeries.”
“Why am I here? What have you done? Who are you?”, I stammered. I had too many questions and my brain didn’t know where to start.
“We own you now. We saw potential in a raw kid who could manage to evade our trained squad, if only for 15 minutes. We have given you new eyes, we’ve installed wired reflexes and increased your muscle mass and responsiveness. For this, we own you.”
“But that’s kidnapping, assault, slavery. I’m sure that’s still illegal around these parts.”, I screamed.
“Mr Yiska, you signed the papers. I have them right here. See. You’ll have a few months of recovery and training before you start the missions…”
“Thirty seconds to drop zone”, came the rigger’s announcement over the Tac-Link.
Operations had scrambled whoever was on hand for this one. The Tac-Ops stiff mentioned something involving a hot tip about BTL dealers in Puyallup. So here they were, racing across town in an HTR VTOL, with a mismatched group of heavily armed and partly trained cops, to raid a chip-house full of Yakuza-backed gangers.
Just Fragging Wonderful…
Mazula turned to look out the viewport, connections clicking into place. Wolfe called about some gang in Puyallup that was linked to the Yaks. And another gang I’d never heard of. Rockshit boys or something like that. Wonder if that has anything to do with this Drop? Nah. Too weird a coincidence.
“Twenty seconds to drop zone”
The heavy clank outside the VTOL’s armor announced the deployment of overwatch rotodrones. The heavily armed robots would patrol the perimeter of the drop zone and cover their backs. Better than having the dog-brained killing machines in my combat zone, thought Mazula. Trust issues extended to more than just people.
Central Mongolia, September 2062
The VTOL was heading down, too fast I thought, and I needed to jump… into a war zone. The veterans’ were laughing about a previous mission when a noob’s gun had jammed and he panicked. One finished his cigar and threw it out the door. I felt like I was going to hurl. I could feel my soy breakfast swishing around in my stomach.
“Drop zone is active, repeat, Active!”
The explosions were all around. People with guns running. Bullets slammed into the sand about 10 feet from where I landed.
“Stick with me kid and don’t puke on my boots. You look green.”, said Lou, one of the veterans…
“Ten seconds, get ready”
The armored cops stood and clipped in their lines, checking that their shotguns, rifles and stun batons were secure. They were supposed to use non-lethal tactics, so the Remington’s were loaded with Stick-n-Shock™ rounds. Fragging waste of time, thought Mazula.
Glancing out the window once more as the VTOL slewed into a hover, Mazula spotted a suspiciously familiar Bulldog delivery van driving up the street away from the drop zone. Making some final mental connections, the cop/shadowrunner wasn’t surprised when the strike leader announced:
“Drop zone is active, repeat, Active! Forget the kid-gloves, we’re going in hot!”
Mazula grinned at Dwayne as he dropped the shotgun and unslung the Ares Alpha. “Now that’s what Mazula’s talkin’ about!”, he yelled as he jumped out the side of the transport, flying down the line while lobbing an HEG through the busted-open door of the chip-house.