[Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

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[Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:22 pm

This. This is a big one.

And this was a collaborative with Hrogge from the spacebattles forums. And our first time doing a story this 'complex' with so many characters. Some parts might read a little like a gearshift with a mistimed clutch.... that's two writers, one without English as a first language, and some poor smoothing.

Operations Status Report
Operation Maulwurf: 12/02/15.
Posted by Jet Jaguar.

It has been two weeks since my last report. Since that time, we have continued to monitor communications between Roland and his handler. So far, there has been no indication that either Roland or his handler are aware their communications are being monitored.

First of all, it’s clear that Roland is little more than a useful idiot. It seems he INSERT IGNOREed the security breach on his own, with the intention of fixing them when no-one else could. He was paid by his contact to keep them in the system, and add more system vulnerabilities.

Second. Now that we have records on where and how many of these vulnerabilities were INSERT IGNOREed, fixing them should be no problemo. However, the SSC module is to be kept offline until we’re certain all the bugs have been swatted.

Third. Our intention was to find a link to his handler, their location and or identity if we were lucky. Cortana was able to get us a location for Roland’s handler. A number of messages seemed to either be sent to, or received from 2462 Nehallennia, which is a minor Senshi outpost.

Our collected data is attached to this posting. In it, the hack as referred to as the ‘VSW project’. The meaning of VSW, I don’t know.

A second stroke of luck strengthens the link to Nehallenia. The Space Patrol is currently searching for two suspects whom they believe may have been involved. Ford Sierra was able to use her position as a Bounty Hunter to get information from the local patrol office. Both suspects were from Nehallennia.

While strongly suggestive of a link, it’s not a confirmation. Once is happenstance, two is coincidence, I decided to go looking for my third confirmation.

I made my way to Nehallennia and landed covertly on the asteroid’s surface under my own power, placing a small camera and radio receiver/recorder on the asteroid’s surface to record traffic coming in and out of the main landing bay. It’s something I did a number of times during the war. I retrieved it after letting it record for a week.

Analysis of the recordings confirm that Nehallenia is a Zwilnik waystation. At least three known zwilnik ships were recorded either arriving or departing. Also, several unencrypted radio transmissions seem to suggest Naoko Sato is present on the station. This is too interesting to be left unconfirmed.

While this is enough cause to order a full Great Justice strike, I would prefer to hold off at this stage. Firstly, we have only a strong suspicion that the robbery was ordered from Nehallennia. We don’t have any information as to whether the ghost hacking techniques originated from there also, or were developed elsewhere.

Our objective is to locate whoever developed this ghost hacking, and retrieve them and their research. Attacking Nehallennia too soon may spook the developer. We’d lose any links to them.

My Primary objectives at this point are:
*: Confirm that Nehallenia is the location Roland is being controlled from.
*: Recover information on who developed Ghost hacking
*: Determine if it was developed at Nehallenia, or elsewhere.
*: Find how far information on these Ghost hacking techniques have spread.
*: If the hack was developed there, get the data. If not, find where and move on. Leave
*: Preferably capture the Mad responsible alive.

As a Secondary objective
* Confirm Naoko Sato's presence.
* Find out what, if anything Naoko knows about this.
* If Naoko Sato is present, capture.

Tertiary objective
* Thionite runners handled by regular OGJ forces. Need a strikeforce on standby close enough to hit quickly.

We have come to the decision that the best way to achieve this would be to first infiltrate Nehallennia undercover to investigate. We can also attempt to gain access to Nehallenia’s computers. We can choose our next course of action depending on what the results of this mission are.

If we find that Nehallenia is the source of the hack, then myself and the Engel Gruppe will lead a raid against the base, preferable backed up by a more conventional force to handle thionite runners and prisoners.

If not, We’ll have to hold off taking down Nehallenia until after we’ve followed the trail to the end. We can’t risk spooking whoever was responsible. Getting Naoko Sato must take a back seat to getting a hold of this ghost hacking.

Ford Sierra and Cathy (SSAM 343-GS) have volunteered for the mission.


Cathy wore a satisfied smirk as she placed the device on the table. A silver ring, large enough to go around a neck, with a single hinge, opposed by an adjustable locking latch.

“This is how we get information in an out!”

Jet inspected it.

“Cat collar?”

Cathy nodded, “The Boskonians used ones just like it to train catgirls, before they perfected their memory wipe,”

Ford looked at her a little bewildered. Why would she be so proud of having something like that? “So?” she said.

“Well,” Cathys chest inflated with pride, “it’s not just a collar anymore. It’s got a low powered radio transmitter, capable of sending text messages and regular data. It’s got a mapping device and a low powered onboard computer. It even has the original shock function... but at a much lower power.”

Jet smiled. “Sounds perfect.”

Cathy showed them a small piece of glass.

“This is the fitting monitor for it, concealed as a cheap cat toy and just large enough to hold it in front of an eye. And the collar even got a valid reason to be emitting encrypted radio signals. It comes with biomonitor sensors, which constantly transmit back to the control unit,”

The original designers intention was that it’d give the catgirls owner a fair warning that they were in danger of killing their pets, rather than just ‘punishing’ them. Cathy used the biomonitor transmitters to transmit more data than the basic vitals. She modified the receiver array to act as a simple passive radar, feeding data to a small onboard computer, which slowly mapped out the base in concert with the controller.

Jet held it in her hand, inspecting with with almost giddy interest while she read through the specs Cathy’d given her.. “Now that’s just fucking cool,” she said.

“Don’t break it,” Said Ford.

“It’s nearly unbreakable,” Cathy assured.

“If you’re not able to lift a car,” Ford said, sardonically. “I’m still looking at Sato. Did you see the bounty the Senshi put on her?” She had a capitalist gleam in her eye. ”I heard whoever brings her in, automatic named sailor.”

Jet chuckled. “Sailor Gearbox,”

“Beats Sailor Smash, Jet,” Sierra snarked back.

“It is just a rumour,” Cathy said, throwing cold water on the joke. “But they are really willing to pay a lot of money for getting her.”

“Well since I’m not getting paid for this, it’d be rude not to collect on it myself,” Ford said.

Cathy scowled amused, “But you two live together. Isn’t that a little.... improper?”

Jet shrugged, “It’s legal.”

It was a lot more complicated than she cared to get into really.

Cathy nodded. “Yes, I know... its funny to do the right things just because they are right... until the point where you suddenly cannot pay your bills anymore.”

Ford wore a mercenary grin. “If they’re willing to pay, I’m willing to be paid,”

Cathy took the collar from Jet. “I’ll still have to get used to wearing it,” She didn’t appear to be too thrilled at the prospect. “But once we’re in, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Ford sighed, and sat back in her couch. “You make it sound like getting in is the easy part.”

“Well, they are accepting landings,” Cathy replied.

Ford shook her head. “The thing with criminals.... the thing with organisations like this. You don’t just show up at the door... that just screams ‘cop’. You need an ‘in’... you need someone inside to vouch for you and say you’re cool. Understand?”

Cathy nodded.

“If we don’t have that, it’s going to be so much harder to get what we want. We need a little bit of trust on our side.”

Cathy nodded again.

“I was thinking”, she pulled Naoko Satos file out from under the gathering pile on the coffee table, “Sato used to be a major Sammie... that’s why they’re so pissed off at her. According to her bio, she still has that Sammie mentality. We might be able to use that. If she is there, we might be able to use her...”

Ford began to detail her plan.


A green Ford truck was drifting through the darkness of the asteroid belt. Most of the cargo area appeared to have been shot up, with the tonneau cover hanging wide open, held on solely by one clasp. Sunlight shone through big holes, much like those which’d be caused by a standard Fen coilgun.

Spattered inside where the purple remains of a cargo of thionite, the vast majority of which had long since dissipated in the vacuum.

The lights in the cabin were dark, but still, there was life aboard.

“What do you think? How long will it take until they finally receive the radio signal and decide to look after us?” Cathy asked, her head laying in Fords legs.

Ford had originally been a little uncomfortable with it, but finally accepted that the catgirl had to have somewhere to sleep. Besides, Cathy was supposed to be hers now. Ford was in her usual getup, mechanics overalls under an armoured leather jacket.

Cathy was dressed in a sleeveless top with a 3WA writing and some really short hotpants. As long as Ford were petting her new pet often enough, she was okay with this.

“The batteries should keep it warm in here for at least another 12 hours.” Ford said, “And we’ve air for a day, unless their aim was that bad.”

Cathy groaned. “It has been 6 hours already.”

“It’ll take a while before they’re convinced we really need help and no-one else is coming.” answered Ford, “But we should be outside their range before we run out of power, after that, the Nova can pick us up if they don’t.”

She was still pining for her poor unfortunate truck. It’d just gotten a new engine and everything after the old one had blown on the way to the last convention. Ford had hated the part of the plan where the Nova had shot up the entire back end of her truck.... she hated it even though it had been her idea.

Nothing but real damage would do. Fortunately, that Senshi on the guns knew what she was doing. There really was nothing left to do but wait and listen to the radio, set to shuffle. It had settled on the suspiciously apropos Space Oddity.

“A song about an astronaut dying stranded in space, while we’re stranded in space.” Ford said, with a bemused snort. “Define irony,”

Still, Ford reflected as she stared out the window, it was humbling. They were only a few thousand kilometres from Nehallenia, but it was still lost in an infinite number of sparkles. She wondered which one was Earth. She wondered which one was Mars. She wondered if Jet ever felt this.... small.... when she was out in space on her own.

Cathy followed her look out to the starscape and smiled. “Thats why I named my craft... why I left Earth... maybe even why I never looked back.” She began to purr happily. “I don’t know how many hours and hours I have looked up into this dark sky.”

Sierra nodded. “Never saw the stars in Chicago, except when the power went out,”

Cathy nodded. “They just produce too much light... that’s why Astronomers were fleeing to the most remote places on Earth... and some of them up here.”

The radio in the front console suddenly beeped with the sound of an incoming radio signal.

“... on a light... unknown truck, please respond... if your radio is not transmitting anymore, switch on a light.” a female voice was calling over a short range radio frequency.

Cathys head shot up as she looked to the radio, curious if their waiting time was finally over. “I hope we are not accidentally rescued by someone else” she chuckled. Cathy jumped up and began to look through the screen of the trucks cockpit, curiously looking for the source of the radio call.

Ford glanced around, checking her mirrors. Bright lights shone from an unknown vehicle.

She started to flash her lights. One long flash, followed by one short one, then repeat the pattern. It was a simple pattern, but one that obviously pointed to life inside.

The radio crackled. “I see you. I’m coming alongside. Use the emergency channel if you still have radio.”

Ford selected the channel, “This is Cally Auron,” she said, “Aboard the Star One. There’s two of us aboard. Myself, and Teela, my catgirl.”

“Copy that,” the voice on the radio answered. “This is Nehallennia One. What happened to you?”

Ford looked at Cathy. Most rescuers normally gave their name. Unless she had reason to hide it.

“We got shot up,” Ford answered.

The lights from the rescue vehicle played across the battered shell of the truck, picking out the holes in the cargobay. Ford held her breath. Long seconds ticked by. This was the make or break moment.

“Great Justice did it?”

Great, let her draw her own conclusions. She’ll believe them more.

“Yeah,” she answered, “They shot me up and splattered my cargo across space. I was lucky to get my ass away and get this far.”

“Too bad,” the voice on the other end responded. “How much air do you have left?”

“About a day’s worth,” Ford replied truthfully.

“Great. We might be able to just tow you in to Nehallennia, instead of doing something more complicated.”

“To whom do I owe my survival to then, Miss mysterious stranger.”

“Sato, Naoko Sato. And trust me, I’ve been doing this for years.”


Sato had been right. Soon after Fords truck was being slowly towed towards Nehallennia. Ford could give her that at least, it seemed she hadn’t lost any of her famous experience.

Seeing the open hangar Cathy had the terrifying realisation that this was all very, very real. Suddenly, she wanted to be anywhere else.

“Don’t worry,” Ford said softly, “It’ll just be a couple of days. Keep our heads, it’ll be no problemo.” she smiled, before reaching for the collar’s monitor. “Just remember, once we’re in that hangar... you’re Teela, and I’m Cally.” she took a deep breath, “And I own you. Just like we practiced,”

Cathy... Teela, she reminded herself, scratched at her collar. She looked almost forlornly up at Cally.

“I’ve done this before,” Cally said.

The change in gravities as they crossed the threshold to the landing bay sent Cally’s mind through a loop. All tests assured her was psychosomatic. It was still irritating.

It faded quickly as she felt the wheels hit solid ground.

“It’ll take about a minute to pressurise the bay,” Sato warned. “Sit tight. You’re among friends here.”

It wasn’t that big of a bay... barely big enough for her truck and whatever was loading beside it. Cally looked out the window, watching a group of Senshi unload what looked like a very fast ship. Well... they were Senshi, but not Senshi in a way. It was hard to put her finger on exactly... but somehow it reminded her of mirror-universe Star Trek, with Spocks beard.

Just that little thing... a little darkening of the colours here and there... a tendency towards torn fishnets or the odd piercing and they suddenly appeared far more evil than their clean-cut counterparts. More ‘Goffick’, she snickered privately. They were trying too hard... an aura of deliberate and intentional gloom hanging over them.

If it wasn’t for the fact that they were unloading obvious bales of thionite off that ship, she wouldn’t even have pegged them as criminals. She started to wonder if maybe perhaps, they weren’t doing it for the money like everyone else, but because somehow crime seemed all edgy and cool and anti-Senshi.

They weren’t real zwilniks, not the actively malicious kind anyway. They were just playing at it.
Cathy herself took one look at them out the window and hoped they were.

In a way, it made the job a little less risky. It also complicated things a lot. They didn’t seem like the sort to develop ‘ghost hacking’, or whatever Jet called it. Which meant either someone was coming to the station to give Roland his orders, or there was someone else here working behind the scenes. An unknown factor...

Those were always fun. Cally sighed to herself, and took the collar’s remote from her pocket. She keyed in her code, and smiled lightly as it came up green. It was picking up Teela’s biometrics quite happily...

“Calm down, Teela,” Cally said. “If they wanted to hurt us, there’d be more of a welcoming committee.”

She hoped.

Teela took a deep breath. “I hope so... but we have clearly missed something during the planning. And I hope we did not missed too much. But lets get out of here, I cannot wait to stretch a little bit...”

“There’re always unknowns going in. Just go with them.” Cally said, before her expression darkened. “Now get out of my damn truck! It’s your fault this happened,” she yelled.

Teela put on a surprised ‘who me?’ face, opened the side door and jumped out of the truck, looking around curiously. Cally damn near slammed the door off its hinges as she got out, projecting fury.

“And see if there’s anything left of our load will ya!” Cally held up the remote.

Teela eyes widened and she hurried around the truck, graping a handle and pulling herself onto the trucks cargo area and looking through the holes of the hatch on the trucks side. She tried to open the tailgate, but it just fell off, clattering onto the steel floor of the bay. Teela stuck her head through the open ‘hatch’ to look at the cargo.

“That doesn’t look good Cally” she shouted back, finally vanishing inside the remains of the trailer.

“This sucks,” Cally spat, scuffing her boot off the ground. She pressed one hand against the cold metal. “My poor baby” she sighed, “what have they done with you?” Deep breath. “Great... truck nearly wrecked, cargo destroyed or gone... this is really my lucky day...”

Naoko Sato appeared beside her, still half dressed in her pressure gear. She took one look at the truck and whistled.

“Solid work... multiple coil gun bursts... one grazing shot over the engine, the others wrecked the wheels and the trailer. It is astonishing that it was still airtight.”

Cally nodded to her and smiled. “Duct tape, and God’s luck,” she said. “But explaining this lot to Vercetti’s going to be a pain,”

Sato raised an eyebrown “Vercetti? I can not say I have heard of him,”

“My boss,” Cally answered. She feigned a sigh. “And if I don’t find 40 kilo’s of thionite for him I got paid to deliver, I’ll be coughing up my own furballs.”

Naoko nodded, pondering for a moment. A business opportunity perhaps?

Teela reappeared from the remains of the trucks bay with something purple in her waving hand. “One survived Cally!”

“39 Kilo’s,” Cally corrected. “Good cat.”

“I think we might be able to come to an arrangement,” Sato said, still working the maths in her head. “It might not be cheap,” she warned.

“Better that than spending the rest of my life washing myself with my own tongue...” Cally replied, with a wry smirk. Judging by the look on Teela’s face she obviously disagreed. “I guess I’ll just have to take the hit this time.”

Naoko stroked her chin with satisfaction, “Then, I think we might be able to do a deal. Naoko Sato, Station Commander.”

“Cally Auron,” Cally offered a handshake.

Sato eyed her hand almost distastefully for a moment. She didn’t grip very tight at all.

“This way, Cally, we will talk more in my office.”


Sato’s office was strangely strange, yet oddly normal. Cally couldn’t really think of a better way to describe it. It certainly reminded her of any number of Senshi homes and offices she’d seen... was that a Furby on the table?..... But it also lacked a certain something and it wasn’t something she could put her finger on.

Maybe it was colour.... maybe it was just a bad aura in the handwavium. It made her far more uncomfortable than she ever expected to be.

Teela had been just following Cally around, trying to keep close to her. Most people seem to not even notice her, except the few that smiled at her in a way Teela didn’t really liked at all. Even the few other catgirls she had seen had a strange look in their eyes. They tended to focus on the collar.

Naoko herself was seated behind her desk, her body language announcing to all that she was the one in charge.

“So,” Sato said, checking her monitor. “I can get you 39 kilogrammes, within 3 days. That should be long enough to fix your truck.”

Cally nodded. Three days should be enough to get what they want and get clear out of there. “How much?”

“Since it is a rush, normally it’d be more expensive. Hmmm...” she made a show of thinking about it “But since you’re a first-customer...and a bad-luck case....about 70k, Australian.”

Cally winced. It wasn’t an act. “Shit... “

“We can work out the details later,” Sato assured her.

“You don’t mind if I pay, when I get paid for this job?” Cally asked, with mild touch of hope in her voice. “I don’t have that much on me right now,”

“Hmmm.....” Sato made a show of considering. She smiled. “20 percent a week sounds fair. I may be Senshi, I may be offering a discount, but that does not mean I am a charity.”

“Bloodsucker,” Cally snarled through gritted teeth. The discount was the loss-leader. But, she had to remember that she didn’t really have a choice but to accept. Deep breath. Look reluctant... it’s not like she actually had to pay her anyway.. “Alright,” she relented, exhaling a resigned breath. “I’ll have your money within a week from when I leave,”

Sato nodded her approval, “Good. I’ll throw in the spare parts for your truck for free.”

“Thanks,” Cally forced a forced smile.

“I’ll have someone show you and your pet....” Teela scowled. “.... to your quarters. Enjoy your stay.”


Sato waited in her office until she was sure the catgirl was out of hearing range.

“Any signals?” she asked the Furby.

“Dah e-tah!” It answered. “Uno Big Lady! Small signal. Uno furby lady! Small signal secret!”

So, Cally was transmitting a signal. And the catgirl too. The catgirls was encrypted. Admittedly, it didn’t have to be encrypted much to confuse the Furby,

“Kah may-lah?” it enquired, it’s expression robotically curious. “Doo-moh?”

It cheered as she embraced it. She was smiling as she placed it back on the desk... It was the only thing that damned Stellvian hadn’t taken from her.

“U-nye-ay-tay-doo?” The furby enquired, concerned.

Yeah, she was. She sat there for far longer than she’d intended, letting herself drift on from regret, through bitterness and on through a malignant hate that burned deep. It brought her mind back to business. Somehow, she doubted Cally would be the type who’d be able to get so much cash within a week.

A courier good enough to evade an OGJ patrol with such a shot-up truck could be useful. Perfect.

Still, that signal was intriguing. She’d noticed the collar around the catgirl’s neck. A feral one? That’d explain the radio signals quite well. Still, it was something worth investigating. She keyed in a few commands into her computer. The projector on top came to life, a holographic screen appearing in mid air beside Naoko.

“Hi!” the image chirrped with a saccharine cheeryness. Pale brown hair, twin straight pigtails and shining round glasses hiding her eyes behind a reflection of the recorder... she still made Sato wince sometimes.

“I have something I want you to check out for me,” she said

“Oh?” the image answered, taking on a deliberately curious expression. “Could it be the newcomers?”


“You forget,” the image smiled, “I’m the best.”

Sato sighed. “They’re both broadcasting a radio signal. It is encrypted. I want you to tell me what it is,”

“Shouldn’t be too hard.” answered the image. She seemed mildly insulted by the simplicity of the task.

“And,” Sato added the carrot. “One of them is a feral catgirl. I know you’ve been wanting one....and they will be needing a lot of money very soon.”

She started to twirl her hair between her fingers.

“Ooh!” The image suddenly perked right up. “Where are they?”

“Room number AE-85,” Sato said, trying to look down on the hologram.

The projected screen just drifted a few centimeters higher.

“I’ll make the pet’s owner an offer she can’t refuse.” the hologram responded with a malicious grin “Vivio’s near broken now anyway.”

The holographic screen disappeared before Naoko could get the last word in. She cursed under her breath. She may be annoying to deal with... and downright scary at times.... but once the plan came to fruition, it’d be worth it.

She glanced down at the Furby.

It stared innocently back at her.

“Boo e-day,” It warned.

No, it wasn’t,... but it was fair. It was vengeance. It was her right Gods dammit after having her life ruined by a bunch of arrogant, self righteous... she took a deep breath, shooting that train of thought clear in the head.

She sat at her desk and stared long and hard at her computer monitor.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.... but it’d all be worth it. Just keep convincing yourself it was worth it.

Last edited by Dartz on Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:23 pm

Cally and Teela had found their way to a bar instead, ditching their guide halfway through in the process. It was a good place to talk... unlikely to be bugged, and loud enough that any conversation would be drowned out.

Just make sure your drink hadn’t been spiked before trying it.

Teela was still brooding about the discussion between Cally and Sato. On the first look the Senshi had been quite nice, but there was a smoothness with how she suggested the insane credit rates for Cally... or how easy the word ‘pet’ for Teela herself had rolled of her tongue. But at least the Furby had been a nice touch to the office. It was cute and humanising.

The bar itself was a rocky cave with a large counter and a number of small tables distributed over the area. Indirect lighting rising up along the edges was giving the whole bar a dim touch in the otherwise well lit asteroid station.

“Get me a table,” Cally ordered “I’m getting myself a drink,”

Teela watched her waiting at the bar for a moment, before picking a table towards one of the edges of the cave. She was hoping Cally would order her something to drink too. A few passersby gave her odd looks.

They probably weren’t expecting to see a feral cat in their bar.

Cally came back with a cheap looking beer, and a litre glass of rehydrated milk for Teela.

Teela smiled and pulled the glass towards herself, the long wait in the truck and later in Satos office had made her thirsty. It didn’t quite smell right, but then nothing in Fenspace did ever match the creamy goodness of Earth milk.

“Wait!” Cally snapped, sharply snatching the glass back. “Got to check it first.”

Teela looked a little bit puzzled, but then nodded, still staring possessively at her glass. Cally just popped open a small compartment in her right arm, taking out a Leatherman, a small plastic dropper, and a tiny booklet of test strips.

“Thionite,” Cally explained. “They might’ve spiked our drinks,”

It wasn’t a case of being paranoid, it was a case of being paranoid enough. Even if they didn’t know who the pair really where, chances are they’d do it just to get ‘em both hooked on the stuff. It wouldn’t be the first time Cally’d heard of it being done.

First she tested the milk. The spot paper turned red. Cally snapped the red part off.

Teela looked alarmed for a moment. “Is that?”

“It’s okay,” Cally assured her. “Just means there’s iron in it.”

Now for her beer. Take a small drop and place it in the box. It came up a slight pale yellow, tinted solely by the beer itself. Cally just nodded her head with satisfied approval.

“Also clear.” As well it should be, she saw him open it.

Cathy grabbed her glass of Milk a second time, sniffed at it for a last time and then took a large gulp. She hesitated for a moment, but then she took a second one.

“Thank you Cally...” she said with a smile.

“It’s cruel not to feed pets,” Cally answered with a hard grin. “Ain’t you glad to have such a kind owner?”

Teela put an arm around Cally, pulled herself to her side and purred loudly for a moment... Cally tensed up noticeably, looking a little uncomfortable for a few brief moments before remembering that Teela was supposed to be her ‘pet’. Forcing herself to relax, she started to stroke the catgirl gently under the chin.

God how she hoped Jet didn’t find out. That thought gave her the devils own grin.

“I see you’ve got it well trained,” An woman’s voice said. They both looked up, a little startled, pushing off each other.

Glasses, golden-brown hair and a pair of straight pigtails like motorcycle handbars. A blue bodysuit, a figure that suggested ‘biomod’ and a white cape with grey furred collar. Beside her, a bewildered looking tabby catgirl with weird boatlight eyes, stuck in what looked like well-worn overalls.

Cathy looked at both of them suspiciously, but stayed silent. There was something terribly wrong about their scent, and it wasn’t something she could easily place.

“Who’re you?” Cally demanded.

“Kua tro,” The woman answered with a cheerful smile. Her eyes were hidden behind Cally’s reflection in her spectacles. Cally saw the roman number IV engraved on a plate just beneath her collar bone, and assumed it might’ve been ‘Quattro’ that she’d said.

Beyond the Audi reference, it meant nothing to her.

“Whad’ya want then?” Cally snorted.

“I hear you need some cash,” Quattro answered, still smiling.

Cally quickly figured the whole cuteness was an act... but covering what? Something wasn’t right, not with that stylised lab coat. A zwilnik mad?

“What about it?” she asked, forcing herself to look uninterested.

“Well, I need a new feral, this one’s getting a little too worn out.” Quattro explained, still in that creepy alto-voice of hers. “Vivio,” she snapped.

The tabby catgirl in the grey overalls stared blankly at her. The lights were on behind her eyes but clearly, nobody was home.

“It’s not worn out at all...” Cally scoffed. “It’s blank.”

Teela looked like she’d bitten a lemon. The catgirl hissed at the newcomer in her bodysuit.

“And my, some spunk,” Quattro commented approvingly. “Just what I need!” she beamed. “I’ll give you 70 thousand Australian for her. I’ll even throw in Vivio here for free, since I need to get rid of her anyway and Sato doesn’t let me just dump them.”

70 thousand. Just enough to cover her debt to Naoko. Interesting.

“No deal,” Cally said quickly “Besides, I don’t know where that’s been.”

Teela was nearly on all fours ready to pounce.

“You might want to control that,” Quattro suggested, pointing a single finger at Teela. The catgirl’s hair was standing on end.

“Cool it, Teela,” Cally warned, making a show of waving the remote control. Even on the small screen, it was obvious just how pissed off the catgirl was.

Teela froze, eyes locking on the device as she scratched at her collar. Unnoticed by either of them, Quattro reached into her pocket, clicking a single switch with her finger. A savage grin spread across her face for a moment, before she clamped down hard on it.

Vivio just stared with blank curiosity at the world around her.

“75,” Quattro said, “Along with Vivio. It’s a good deal, ne?”

“Yeah,” Cally admitted, “But I’ve had Teela for so long, I can’t bear to part with her.” She smirked. “I’ve got her just right,”

Teela shot Quattro a smug grin as Cally began to stroke her just behind the ears. Teela started to purr quietly.

Quattro’s expression blackened into a vicious sneer, her sharp golden eyes penetrating through her glasses for a few moments. Cally was reassured by the familiar weight of her gun pressing against her chest. She slipped a hand inside her jacket, making it obvious she’d defend herself and her property.

Her heart began to pound... just draw, aim and squeeze.

Quattro exhaled a sigh “Well, your loss,” she said, making it as clear as possible that it really didn’t matter to her. The madgirl spun on her heels. “Vivio,” she snapped, “Come with me.”

She marched from the bar trailing a chilling draft, Vivio following mindlessly behind.

“I think we might’ve found our ghost hacker,” Cally commented, keeping her voice quiet. She looked down into her beer bottle. Suddenly, she wasn’t very thirsty.

Teela was just breathing in and out, trying to calm down again. Yes, Cally was right, maybe they were at the right place. Teela found herself hoping she was wrong.

The other Gliesbies in the bar hadn’t even bothered to look at them.


Quattro exhaled a long sigh. “Go back to the lab, Vivio,” she ordered. The catgirl nodded and disappeared. Quattro herself was heading to Sato’s office, doing her best to ignore the useful idiots around her.

She pulled the device from her pocket, just a little PDA with a few choice...’modifications’ and began to smirk as she ran through the data it’d collected.

Low level radio signals from the collar. Responses from the controller. Collar signals were encrypted. She thought for a few seconds, considering it thoroughly, reading the raw data.

‘Dane encryption’ she thought, with a contemptuous sneer. “Like opening into a child's toy box.”

It didn’t take her too long to break.

She didn’t bother knocking on Sato’s door.

“What is it?” Sato demended. glaring at her from behind her desk.

“I have the information you wanted,” Quattro answered. “It wasn’t hard at all. Just a basic mundane algorithm.”

She spoke like it really didn’t matter to her, like it was trivial.

“And?” Sato pushed.

“Biosignals mostly like you’d expect” Quattro said. She smiled with satisfaction. She knew something Sato didn’t, and wanted to drink deep of that feeling. “And something interesting. It sends back location data to the controller.”

Sato raised an eyebrow.

“Mmmm,” Quattro nodded smugly. “You know what that means?”

“That someone likes to know where her catgirl is,” Sato answered, crossly.

Quattro scowled. “You’re too trusting.”

“And you’re too paranoid.” Naoko snapped back at her. “If it was sending something more complex maybe, but right now, it is a reasonable precaution for an owner to make. I knew people who sold collars like this for years.”

“Position, connections and the memory of the catgirl... the result could be a perfect map of the asteroid” Quattro said coldly.

Sato hated when she talked down to her like that. “I know.” she snarled through gritted teeth. “And every single shipment coming in through the hanger could be a Patrol sting... but if I turned away each ship that you found something suspicious about, then the only thing that’d land here would be cosmic dust.”

Quattro glared.

Sato leaned back in her chair. “Remember, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

“If you even get three times. This isn’t the Silly Sailors.” she sneered.

Naoko shot her a hard glare. “I am responsible for making money with our operations. We have been unbothered by the Patrol for so long precisely because I have not given in to the same paranoia as all the other zwilniks. Bring me something concrete first.”

And by her tone, that was final.

Quattro snorted her contempt and left quickly.


Cally and Teela were lost. They’d been trying to find their quarters from the bar, and figured they’d take a wrong turn somewhere. Compounded by another, then another.

“I’m sure it was a left,” Cally said, scratching her head.

Teela looked up at her, rolling her eyes.

“Up the main stairwell 2 levels, door 4, take a left... then a third right.” Cally recited from memory.

But they weren’t anywhere near AE-85.

“Directions were never your strong point,” Teela giggled.

Cally rolled her eyes. It was being mapped by the collar, that was the main thing. It was just a matter of wandering around lost in a very realistic manner.

“Maybe we should ask someone” suggested Teela carefully. Not really what they wanted to do now, but it sounded good.

“Then we look like idiots,” Cally replied and shook her head.

“We look like idiots wandering around.”

“Lets try this corridor... I think it should go back to the bar... maybe.” Teela said and pointed into a larger corridor. She had no clue where it was going. This asteroid station was definitely a large one and had most likely been in place for years.

Just when they decided to enter the corridor a voice sounded behind them.

“What you two are doing here? This is a restricted area.”

Cally and Teela turned around to see Sato standing in a different corridor, looking at them. Teela smiled happily and sighed relieved.

Cally looked angrily at Teela and slapped her.

“YOU said you knew the way to our room... keep your mouth shut next time if you are not sure” Cally said, then she turned to Sato with a slightly embarrassed look.

She exhaled a long sigh. “Teela said she remembered the way to our rooms....we’re new here.”

The catgirl scratched herself where Cally had hit her and stayed silent. It refused to stop stinging.

Sato wore a stern expression for a few moments, but then she nodded. “Follow me... and stay in the public areas next time...”

Cally looked annoyed at Teela. “Bloody cat..”

Teela put on an innocent ‘who me?’ face and nodded obediently.

Sato sighed mentally and began to lead them back to the living areas and to their room. She would have to check their story later by looking through all the camera recordings. Somehow though, she doubted any spy would make themselves look like an idiot by getting lost...

She decided not to tell Quattro.... it would just make her even more paranoid. She might even have sent the pair off into this area just to frame them.

“What is with that Quattro anyway?” Cally asked.

“She’s our madgirl.” Sato answered, “Try to stay away from her.”

“I mean, what could she want with Teela? She tried to buy her off us in the bar”

Sato shrugged, “Research.” Who knows? “She’s a madgirl. Try to keep it from straying if you don’t want to lose it,”

Teela bared her fangs, but her flicking tail showed she was not really feeling her bravest at the moment.

“Right so.” Cally cringed.. She’d picked that irritating phrase from Jet.

“So tell me Cally,” Sato continued, making conversation, “What was your last stop before you were attacked. What’s your normal route?”

“Stellvia was my last stop,” Cally answered. Sato’s expression blackened.

“That’s unusual,” she remarked.

Cally gave a dismissive shrug, “Best place. The rooms are private and there’s so much traffic through the station that they don’t have a chance to check everyone coming and going.”

Teela smiled. “And they like having catgirls around” she added with a cheery grin.

Sato looked dubious. “Most couriers I know run through Genaros,”

“How many of them get caught? Space Patrol and Bounty Hunters all over the place,” Cally began to strut.

“You nearly got caught,” Sato groused.

Cally saw her her opening. Time to spear the fish. The fastest way to make friends was to share an enemy.

“It was that 4-eyed stellvian bitch,” she spat. “I’m certain of it,”

“Oh?” Naoko raised an interested eyebrow. “Do tell,”

Cally snorted. “We did the deal in the bedroom... two duffle bags with 20 kilos apiece in them. Empty the bags of money, fill them with purple, the usual deal. So we do it, and everything’s sweet... I just have to check the purity of it,”

She popped open that small compartment on her arm, showing her the leatherman, and that leaflet of papers, one single one stained a deep purple. The papers were common, intended to detect thionite in a sample, or if a sample of thionite had been cut, and with what.

“A hundred percent pure, uncut stuff. Fresh off Venus.” Cally bragged. She hid the paper and closed the compartment. “Everything was done and dusted, just had to get out to my truck, when there’s a knock at the door,”

Cally took a breath.

“We both looked at the door, then each other, collectively shitting bricks. Kiko answered it, and it was herself in her uniform, smiling from behind her glasses. Fujisawa with some sort of scanner. Citing some safety clause about a bad pressure seal, she asks us to leave the room”

Probably bullshit. Cally knew as much about Stellvian operations as she did about memetic handwavium theory, but then again she was betting Sato knew even less.

“5 minutes later, she’s smiling as she lets us back in. Nothing looked disturbed at the time, so we finished up and hurried off.” Cally feigned a sigh. “Probably should’ve checked the bags for tracers, but we were both spooked and we forgot.”

Sato nodded. “And they were bugged?”

“Oh yeah,” Cally carried on. “I get out past Mars, I get a frantic message from Kiko in her van warning me. I hear the seals on the door go, followed by Fujisawa’s damn cheerful...” she loaded those words with as much hate as she could muster, “...voice telling Kiko she was under arrest and acting so damned proud of herself.”

Callys voice rang off the stone walls.

“I’ve known Kiko since before I came up here....”

“You weren’t tracked here were you?” Sato snapped her down, stunning her for a moment.

“Uh...”Cally held up her hand for a moment, “Well... when we lost the cargo we lost the tracker.... it’s how we got away. They went after the beacon while we hid on an asteroid.”

Naoko stopped for a few seconds, mulling it over in her mind. Paranoia could be a healthy thing in the right amounts.

“Are you sure?” she demanded. She stared into Cally’s eyes, her expression firm.

“Of course. Damn sure.”

Cally tried to act insulted. Hadn’t she been the one who planned the whole thing?

Sato stepped back a little. “We will still have check the truck for trackers,”

Teela smiled happily. “Can I help you looking for them... hunting for hidden stuff is always fun!”

The station commander glared down at her for a moment. “It would be best if both of you were nowhere near the vehicle,”

Teela shrunk down like a scolded child.

“So how did you escape, Cally?” Sato enquired, her tone flat. Cally wasn’t sure whether she was just curious to hear the end of the story, or starting to get suspicious. The senshi gave no indication.

Cally exhaled a sigh. “We got shot up, buncha trigger happy lunatics. The bags were blown out when the cargobay decompressed. The tracker must’ve been in one of them... they went after that while we cut power and hid on an asteroid. Once we were sure they were gone, we fired up the engine and crawled here.”

Cally forced the anger, calling up some of her most hated memories to fuel it.

“But they got Kiko. The bitch got her. Kiko’s my friend since I came up in ‘08... back before any of this SMoF politics got going, all these assholes making themselves kings in their own personal fantasy while screwing it up for the rest of us.”

Cally stopped with a bitter snarl. Sato mulled it over for far longer that Cally was comfortable with. After a few tense heartbeats, the zwilnik Senshi’s expression softened into an easy smile.

“I think we might get along just fine,” she said amiably. “Your quarters are just around this corner, try to remember where they are this time.” She chuckled, covering her mouth in that uniquely Japanese manner.

It creeped Cally out no-end for reasons she couldn’t quit put her thumb on.

“Thanks,” she said.

Naoko showed them through the door, before leaving on ‘station business’. If Cally hadn’t known better, she might’ve pegged her as just an ordinary Senshi. Villains had a disturbing tendency to be surprisingly banal.

There were very few Quattros in the world.

“So, do we do it know?” Teela asked, fidgeting with her collar.

Cally checked the her watch. “Another hour or so. Time enough to unpack my towel.”


“Every good hitchhiker knows where her towel is.” Cally grinned.

Teela cursed in her own language, muttering something dark under her breath that sounded like a death sentence.

Cally dropped herself onto the bed.... little more than a simple cot. She half expected the thing to collapse under her weight.

It was a small room, even for Fenspace, and decorated in the local manner.... which was subtly creepy. There was a small table, a place that’d been set aside for Teela, and literally not much else aside from a small porthole, with the black cloak of space clinging to the other side of the glass.

Either Naoko was supremely good, and trying to string her along into a trap, or she’d made a connection with her.... she decided to hope for the latter and begin to wonder what she’d do if it was the former.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:24 pm

The air aboard the Destiny Nova was heavy... even the scrubbers had been shut off. A couple of low-power LED lights kept everything lit, but aside from them, everything was shut down. The heat aboard was getting intolerable, even though they were now on the shaded side of the asteroid, facing Nehallenia.

The Senshi crew were starting to wilt in the heat, some of them having long since stripped down to the bare essentials just to get cool. They’d even dropped the atmospheric pressure to the safest minimum, increasing the partial pressure of oxygen to compensate, solely to reduce vapour pressures and help them sweat.

It didn’t help much.

Mari considered switching to a full O2 atmosphere, dropping pressures to a minimum, but that just wasn’t safe. Not for the first time she found herself jealous of the cyborgs who could just step out onto the asteroid, or find shade under ship.

She checked a few settings, and turned off a few more unnecessary systems to reduce power drain from the batteries to just the couple of amps needed for the lighting. The engine field coils had been degaussed, and anything which generated a varying magnetic field was shut down. Electric motors, air scrubbers, even the computer systems had been throttled right back to a minimum. Desmond was kept at a low enough power to keep himself and Cortana amused with Team Fortress 2, and not much else.

Only DC systems were online. A constant magnetic field was easier to hide on an iron-nickle asteroid. Varying ones were obviously artificial.

They were hidden in a crater on an asteroid under a rock effect tarpaulin especially developed to diffuse their heat signature. To anyone who cared not to look too hard, it appeared as little more than natural solar heating and re-radiation. It also happily acted as a nice radio reception antenna, while mimicking the reflection of the surrounding rock reasonably closely.

Cortana had not liked to be stuck inside another ship for that long, and neither had the Stargazer. The ships engine had shut down shortly after the cloaking sheet had been put over them and was refusing to produce much more than a standby trickle of energy. Luckily Cortana did not have that much problems with heat or oxygen storage, as an AI she only cared about some energy input and problems with overheating. Not being able to get out and around in the ship, talking with the people there was the worst part of the plan in her opinion. Nobody ever came into the forward bay.

Mari sat back in the pilot’s seat, looking out up at the underside of the sheet. They’d been parked up for about three days already. Three days aboard a hot, cramped ship, sweating buckets. She’d give the Boskonians who built her one thing at least, they were tough bastards to be willing board a boat like this for weeks at a time. What it was like for the folks in the cargo hold, she tried so hard not to think about.

A small light flickered on the radio panel. Once, twice, three times, followed by a chirrup as a single message popped up onscreen. She pulled herself over the vacant copilot’s seat to read it. It was just a simple short text message, only a few hundred characters at most.

It perked her spirits up no-end.

Running under radio silence , the best way to get in touch with the messages intended recipient was to open the hatch in the floor and shout down the length of the ship. Every pressure door had been jammed open anyway to let air circulate.

Forward, in the galley right at the bow of the ship, dinner for three Kunstler consisted solely of rip-pack self-warmed ready meals. They weren’t as bothered by the heat as the ordinary humans, having bodies capable dealing with it with little trouble.

Tiegel was busy finishing a story, while Jet was half buried in a bag of ‘food’, and Lenneth was still trying to figure out how to rip hers open without tearing it apart entirely.

“So, I get out and these turrets are still there and they go on alert,”

“They shot you?” Lenneth asked.

“No, that’s the damnedest thing.” he answered. “They started to sing,”

Jet didn’t appear surprised.

“Bullshit!” Lenneth snorted.The bag tore completely open, spilling it’s contents in a cascade of dessicated flavouring and textured protein. The heat pack fizzled on the floor “Motherfucker,” she grunted through gritted teeth.

Tiegel chuckled. Jet just smiled. “They did it for me too,” she said. “You just have to complete the test courses.”

Tiegel nodded.

Lenneth planted her hands hard on her hips, “You both went through the test course?”

Tiegel and Jet nodded. “You didn’t?” Tiegel replied.

“Of course not. Why the hell would anybody want to?”

Jet and Tiegel shared an aside glance. “Boredom?” both cyborgs suggested to each other in unison. Seemed like the obvious answer to them.

Lenneth rolled her eyes and set about clearing up the mess on the floor, grumbling to herself about strange colleagues and their weird ideas. Who in their right mind would take on potentially those lethal test chambers solely for shits and giggles?

“Hey Jet!” a voice called down the length of the ship.

“Shuttup,” someone grumbled in one of the cabins.

“What?” Jet yelled back.

“Message. From the INSERT IGNOREion team,”

A blonde head appeared through some drawn curtains. “I’m trying to sleep!”

Jet ran past her trailing a soothing draft and the wafting smell of Meals Rejected by Erisians. Jet rushed to the bridge, passing through the engine room on her way. Andrew Maion, the only person in Fenspace who could understand the Nova’s engines, was sleeping happily under one of the big gas generator turbines. Jet’s slamming footfalls jolted him awake.

“Too hot,” he mumbled and rolled over onto a cooler patch of metal. Linda was down in the battery room, still humming that odd tune of hers.

The cargo bay door was sealed, while the bay itself was purposely left depressurised. Aside from mealtimes, most of the Kunstler were staying in vacuum... it saved air loss through continuous depressurisation. A sign on the door advised against going in alone, coupled with a Ghostbusters logo.

Getting up the ladder to the top deck hadn’t stopped being a pain. Still, it was easy enough if she just pulled herself up with her hands, propelling herself up onto the deck with one last push.

“Just came in,” Mari said, taking her rightful position at the pilots seat. Jet may have been the mission commander, but she was the ship’s Captain. “It’s on the comms panel,”


It took Jet just a few moments to read the message. Short, but exactly what she wanted to hear.

Both on Rock. Confirm Vidkun. Possible Bob Rife. Vidkun may trust. Teela safe. Retrieve QED tomorrow. Get car ready for hookup. Laters :)

Mari swore she saw a weight drop off of Jets shoulders. “They made it,” she said. Ford was okay.

“So, we’re finally getting off this rock sometime soon?” Mari asked.

“Couple days maybe,” Jet responded. “Next SMS will be them leaving, then we’re going in,”

“Great,” Mari sighed, flopping back against the console. She gazed out over the hull to the metallic rock beyond. “I’ve had enough of this view already.”

She was still staring at the rock outside when Jet went below decks. Jet herself dropped down to the third deck, both feet clanging hard onto the deckplates. The lower deck was far more cramped. Linda was busy in the battery room behind her, while Jet made her way forward through the life support generators.

Frost was forming on the stored air tanks. Some bedding had been clustered around them. Miranda was cooling herself in nothing more than a tank-top and shorts, face buried in a book... as usual.

Heart of Darkness, Jet noted. Odd... most of the Senshi crew had a thing for Stephen King. Both of them mumbled a greeting as Jet went by.

The computer room was where Luka usually hung out... He wasn’t there, but the dinosaurs were. Everything was shut right down to cut heat output. Desmond’s rack was specially marked with a single piece of notepaper.

On it, a sketch of the Destiny Nova exploding, and the words ‘Please don’t forget!!’. The rack had its own onboard batteries allowing Des’ enough time to do an emergency hibernate, and was secured in place by a single catch. The intention was to make it easy for Luka to pull him out, and escape in Little Nelly, usually stored in the forward shuttlebay.

A Zig fighter could just about fit in there. A Skoda Estate would also fit, if you didn’t mind not being able to get anything else in, nor wanted to close the inner airlock doors. Most of the equipment and survival suits had been dumped in what was usually the emergency control room.

When Jet came into the forward shuttlebay where the Stargazer had been parked, the ship was totally dark. The air inside was still normal, just the temperature had been raised by some waste heat from the small spacecraft. There was some condensation on the inside of the windows.

Jet knocked gently on the roof.

The screen projector activated, showing Cortana avatar sitting in front of a virtual TV screen with a gamepad in hand and playing a match of Team Fortress 2. She was getting sick of being stabbed in the back by the spy.

“Hi Jet, nice to see you again” Cortana greeted him with a smile, “I hope nothing bad has happened? So what can I do for you ?”

“Got a message from Ford and Cathy.” Jet told her with a relieved cheerfullness. “They’re on Nehallennia. They’ll have the QED set up tomorrow probably.”

Jet looked more closely to the projected avatar. “We’re on EMCON and you have Interwave running ?” she asked.

“I have the QED link to Hedwig set up. Enough bandwidth for games.” the avatar informed her. “I have been losing on TF2” She sounded annoyed.

Jets smile grew oddly mischievous. That’d be Desmond’s little hobby then. “Good. Have task force Butterscotch come up to hot standby. We might need to be going on short notice anytime over the next 3 days.”

Jet found her cheer dissolving. She hoped they wouldn’t have to go that quickly. The only reasons she could think of that would have them going on such short notice, weren’t good reasons.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

“Butterscotch responds affirmative, ready in three hours.”

“Right so,” Jet said, her voice soft. Her thoughts had already gone elsewhere.


There were three C-130’s rigged for prisoner transport and medical evacuation, a pair of B-36’s for long range heavy support. Four squadrons of Zigs were carried in the Peacemakers bellies. On top of that, a whole squadron of Blackbrids and enough troops to take a small city.

Task force Butterscotch was waiting.

Aboard one of the Blackbirds, a comm panel came to life. The panel operator checked the message he’d received, before tapping the craft’s pilot on the helmet

“Hurry up and wait,” he told him. “As fucking usual”

The pilot sighed. “Why can’t they ever think about us, stuck aboard ship on hot standby until further notice? What do they think we are, robots?”


Teela and Cally were sitting in their quarters, getting ready for the day. Cally lounged around in her underwear for a bit after her shower, tweaking a few little things on her leg before getting dressed. Her towel was dripping, hung off the door. They’d survived the night, that was the main thing. There were a few things that had to be taken care of. Cally had to get to work repairing the truck, while Teela was making final checks that her collar’s mapping program would work.

“Hey, they said you could get to your truck today when they finished their examination... and I am pretty sure they did not find any damned Patrol toys on it, otherwise they would have taken it apart completely.” Teela said, hoping to raise Cally’s mood a little bit. “You will get it up and running within no time at all, I am sure.”

They just had to wait for Sato’s team to finish. Wait and hope they found nothing. Cally forced herself to focus on her truck. She had an OBD diagnostic checker in the truck, and the toolbox was kept in the cabin, not in the cargobay. Still, there was always the chance somebody else had bugged them.... or somebody would be clever enough to plant a bug to fake evidence, or any number of a hundred things. They gnawed at the back of her mind as she paced around the room. A small console beside the door began to beep in time with a blinking yellow light.

“Cally, I think you got a phone call.” Teela purred. “What do you think, do we have won the Christmas lottery and willl get one million small toys for your brave and nice catgirl?” she said, curling up happily into herself, not even bothering to get up.

“Lazy beast” Cally snorted, throwing a pillow at the catgirl. She stood herself up, muttering dark things about lady Garfield, and activated the commlink. “Cally Auron here...”

Sato’s face appeared.

“Good morning Miss Auron... you might want to know that we finished the examination of your truck this morning.” Sato said with a cheery smile.

“I’m assuming it came up clean,” Cally said, archly.

“Well...” Sato answered, sucking air through her teeth like a mechanic about to give a big bill. “Define clean?. We didn’t find any bugs... at least, not the electronic kind anyway,” she giggled.

Cally could’ve throttled her. Those few moments had scared the hell out of her. “Oh Ha hah,” She blew a draft of frustration through her lips and opened the door.

Naoko was there, waiting like she was her best friend. Cally felt oddly ill.,

“I think now you can get started on fixing your truck, while we have a chat on the way,”

“About what?”

“A little job offer,”


Teela stayed on her pillow, even after Cally had left the room to get to her truck. She was bored, but they both could not afford that anyone on the station got even more suspicious about them. She had work to do.

She waited for at least ten minutes, then raised her head and looked through the room. With a big grin she jumped up and hurried over to a small box in the ‘luggage’ they had brought here from the truck. She opened it and looked over the small collection of cat toys, then took out a small piece of glass. She quickly put the box back where it had been and hurried back to her pillow and began to play a little bit with the glass. Then she yawned and pulled the blanket over her head.

Both she and Cally had agreed that it was unlikely that the apartments were watched, but Teela liked to be careful. She slipped the glass lens over her left eye and activated the small display for the collar, quickly opening the current map of the asteroid.

Even if someone had been watching her, they wouldn’t have seen more than a sleeping cat, or occasionally one which liked the scratch at it’s eye. Building this disguised computer system had been really fun, now was the time to make good use of it.

‘Somewhere here must be their working place for the Ghosthack’ she thought, ‘I just have to find it. The sooner we find what we were looking for, the faster we can leave again...’

Teela had nearly an hour of video to work through, looking for evidence of the working place of the hacker.


“Oh, Agatha left her behind,”

Sato spoke so offhand, it nearly made Cally faint. She’d just asked about Quattro. She was just poking for a little info on the madgirl. And that was the explanation. Went fishing for minnow, caught a bluefin tuna.

“I see you’ve heard of her,”

“Agatha Clay?” Cally blurted out. Her eyes had golfballed.

Sato seemed to inflate. “Unh. She left a few months ago, and Quattro stayed behind. Two Mads on one base was a little too crazy.”

Two Mads on her base. Agatha Clay had been on her base.

“...wow.” Cally said.

Which meant, chances were, there’d be information on where Agatha had gone on her base. Cally’s skin began to prickle with excited static electricity.

“Where’d she go?” she asked, trying to sound as offhand and nonchalant as possible.

“She did not say,” Sato answered, her tone turning just that little bit sour.

Maybe it hadn’t been a pleasant parting? An acrimonious divorce? Cally tried her best to remember Clay’s profile, given on her bounty card. It was one of the big bounties, the kind every hunter knew about, but only the bigshot professionals ever thought about going after. From what she recalled, she gathered it wasn’t Sato who’d ordered Clay off the base,

She doubted Quattro had forced Agatha off...something about that just didn’t feel right. She wondered if maybe Agatha hadn’t seen what they were planning,and bailed out early before it blew up in everyone’s face.

Cally kept it in the back of her mind, even as she made small talk with Naoko. The other option was that Naoko was happily playing her as the fool, and Quattro was far more deadly than even Agatha.

“Have you been to Crystal Paris recently?” Sato asked her, taking a sudden left swerve in things. It seemed to be just a curiosity of hers.

“Don’t go in to Venus,” Cally answered. “But Kiko goes there...” a bitter pause. Cally forced herself to snarl. “Used to go there from time to time,” she corrected herself.

Naoko thought. Her brow creased as she tried to match the name to a face. She brought her hand to her chin. “I don’t remember her,”

Cally dismissed it with a shrug. “She ran from Titusville mostly. Paris was her vacation spot.”

“I see,” She looked at Cally, then at floor. “I was wondering if Café à la place du Café was still open.”

Cally shrugged again. “Never been there,” She didn’t dare fall for that old trap.

They walked through a few corridors Cally found herself starting to recognise. A pair of the locals rushed by pushing a trolley, being yelled at by some random courier. He made a pass at Cally. Gold teeth, what a dick. He sounded Russian.

She told him where he could stick it. Bastard probably had a Catgirl anyway.

“It is getting busy here. Especially since most other waystations have been hit in the last few months. Most of what went there now goes through here.”

“What’re you getting at?” Cally asked her.

“How about you start working for us?” Sato suggested, wearing a oily smile that reminded Cally of so many used car salesmen who made you feel like they were doing you a favour selling you that lemon of a Buick.

She made a show of thinking about it.

Sato continued with the pitch. “I am sure we could come to an agreement, especially if you have trouble getting the money,”

“I won’t,” Cally said, firmly.

Sato appeared unperturbed “Yes, Quattro told me you wouldn’t sell your catgirl to her. If you’re not interested in that, maybe we could renegotiate the rate of interest.”

Cally looked thoughtful. “What sort of renegotiation?”

“Work for me, and each job you do for me, also counts towards your debt,”

Oh, that old game. Cally’s eyes narrowed.

“Do I look like a moron?”

“Oh no,” Sato assured her. “I doubt we would be talking here if you were. I’ll drop the interest rate to below 5 percent for one thing, even if you can pay it back next week. All you have to do is agree to take a few simple jobs.”

“And if I agree, pay at the 5 percent and then run off into the wild black yonder?”

Sato’s smile broadened into an almost malicious grin “ Somehow I doubt you will. I am sure couriers like yourself pride themselves on keeping their word, and sticking to a deal. You Bean Bandits depend so much on your reputations.”

The threat implied was that she’d badmouth Cally across the system so she’d never get a job again, and had more than enough influence and standing to pull it off. Any other Zwilnik would probably just have threatened her with either a catgirling machine or an industrial deep-fat frier. Or both...

“Seems fair,” Cally said. “I’ll take jobs from you on two conditions.”

“Those are?”

“No runs down into the ‘danelaw. And I get to veto pickups within 2 light minutes of Atalante, Prometheus, Heimdal or any other Space Patrol or OGJ base if I think it’s too dangerous.”

Sato shook her head. “No way... ‘any other Space patrol or OGJ base’ is a term for ‘everywhere worth going to’. Do you really think I would throw my couriers away by sending them to a certain death ? Atalante, Prometheus and Heimdal is okay as a veto list... but no wildcards.”

Cally crossed her arms, “Do you think I’ve been a courier for this long without knowing when to spot which jobs are good, and which will get me arrested or worse?”

Maybe she was playing the part too much? Maybe it’d be better to just get on Naoko’s good side and play the idiot. Something in her pride refused to let her...

Naoko’s expression darkened. “Do you think I have kept my operation here safe by throwing people away to get arrested?. One person arrested, is one person who can talk.”

“Good point,” Cally was forced to admit. “I’ll have to think about it.”

Naoko didn’t seem to be happy about the answer, but her mood seemed to be improving again.

“Do. The offer is good until you leave the station. And after this last incident, I doubt there are many who would give you as good terms as I am doing. We’ll talk later.”

Naoko left her with that, making damned sure she didn’t get the last word in. The landing bay itself was pressurised at the time, with another truck parked up and loading. That was where all the trolleys were going.

There was something she wanted in her toolbox, but first she had to make a show of getting about repairing the truck. She had to repair the truck anyway unless they wanted to get caught in the crossfire of the upcoming attack

She crossed the bay doing her best to go unnoticed, opening the passenger door of her truck before pulling out the seat. It wasn’t hard, the passenger seat was designed to be removed easy, so Jet could sit in the back in comfort.

Now it helped her get her toolbox out. She opened it, a basic key lock deterring casual thieves, checked to see if what she really wanted was still hidden in its proper place... it was... before removing her engine diagnostic kit.

It was literally just an ordinary OBD-II diagnostic unit and connection leads, a fault code reader... nothing more or less. It had a simple LED display. She hooked it up to the trucks ECU, now waved.... but still working much the same as it usually did.

It took a few moments to make the connection. The truck’s own minor AI smiled inside itself, recognising the touch of it’s owner. Poor thing really was like a loyal dog, did she have to have it shot up so bad?

“Hey! Vot de hell iz dat?”

She snapped around, turning to face that same gold-toothed zwilnik she’d passed in the corridor. He was bearing down on her wearing an almost dog-like snarl, big ice-coloured eyes focused on the device in her hand.


Teela had worked for hours on the collars data, slowly creating an annotated map of 3D images. She was sure that the designers of this place had planned the asteroid for a high security facility, but there were some noticeably different areas.

A large area was a combined living and working area, a place where people spent most of the day.

The spaceport was another separated area, connected to the rest of the asteroid station by long corridors.

‘Will not be that easy to break into for Jet and his group’ Teela thought, looking at the color marked area.

But there was a third part of the station she and Cally had wandered into ‘accidentally’. One that Naoko had said it was ‘forbidden’ or ‘restricted’ for them. They had not been able to move far into it, but this area had a different kind of layout than the living area of the station. There had been less people moving around, and nearly none of them had been chatting with each other. The few pieces of conversation the collar had recorded had even some technical content.

‘Obvious really,’ Teela thought, then stretched herself and yawned. She got up and moved over to Callys luggage again. She put her ‘toy’ back into the small box and took out a standard computer tablet. It took her a few moments to find the rooms network plug, but then she leaned back on the bed of the room and began to surf the internal web of the asteroid. She was not really doing something forbidden, but just randomly surfing the internal web was sometimes enough to gather useful information about a network.

Somewhere in there should be some evidence that this ‘restricted’ area was really the one they were looking for.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:24 pm

Cally stared him down over the sights of her gun,

“Don’t come any closer to me shithead,”

He smiled at her. It wasn’t a pleasant smile.

“Somehow,” he said, “Hi don’t tink hyu vill shoot me,”

He took a step forward, her finger was tense on trigger, taking up the slack. She’d shoot him. God help her she’d shoot him if he got any closer.

“Hyu don’t haf de look hin de eyes,”

Her heart was thumping in her chest. His eyes dropping down warned her that the diagnostic kit wasn’t anything more than a pretense.

“I’ll kill you!”

Shoot him, and the mission’s blown.

“Not a chence,” he said. “Hyu are scared ov me Hi tink. If Hyu vere goin to keel me, hyu vould not be afraid. Hyu vould not be afraid to keel.”

His smile broadened into a grin. She could see her own frightened eyes reflected in each on of his golden teeth.

She felt her blood chill, her body going dead calm. Him dead or bleeding and her explaining things to Sato would be far better than the alternative. She was going to shoot. she had to shoot.

“Stop vaysting time end get back to vork!” someone yelled from across to bay. “Kent hyu zee ve hef shit to load?”

He turned around. “Sorry boss,” he drawled. “Hi gots distrected,”

He leered back at her and she clung tight to the pistol. Her slips twisted into a snarl, her gaze hardening.

“Ah,” he sighed with satisfaction. “Dets de look.”

He turned and left her, stunned for a few moments, just standing there with the weapon in her hands. Deep breathing, let the adrenaline fade away. The bastard was getting back to work at the other end of the bay. She returned her pistol to its holster, letting that familiar weight sooth.

He’d been right about one thing. As far as she knew, she’d never killed another human being.

She did her best to just put it out of her mind while hooking the diagnostic tester up to the truck. It gave it’s answer after a few seconds.

She placed a warm hand against it’s cold metal body. “Poor thing. Just give me three days and I’ll have you good as new,”

She got to work. First, remove all the damaged parts.

“Yes we can,” she promised herself. It would be a small miracle to get it going again. It was time for an insistence on small miracles.


Teela finished her initial probings, poking at the local network like a cat might poke at a ball of yarn. She’d been finished for hours.

Hours left waiting alone in that room, staring at the door. Waiting for Cally. She scratched at her collar, the metal ring getting tighter and tighter around her neck. It was constricting. It was making it hard to breath. She was not used to laying idle for so long...

It was about time she figured out how to get the electric blankets working. Time flies when you’re curled up in a furball soothing yourself with your own purring. She lay there, lost in bliss for hours.

If any part of Teela’s mind was aware of the door opening and then closing, the catgirl did not show any evidence of it. Teela had better things to do at the moment..

Then she felt a hand going over her fur for a moment and Teela thought she heard a voice somewhere far away saying something about a ‘lazy clever cat’... and then the blanket was switched off.

Teela mumbled a little bit and stretched herself, then she looked up into Callys face with a smile, then she jumped up and hugged Cally hard. “You have been away for that long... did something bad happen?”

“Just a lot of work on my truck” Cally answered, slowly extracting herself from the catgirls embrace. “And what did my lazy clever catgirl do in the mean time?”

Teela just grinned. “Oh, just some experiments to move the clock faster than normal... can I come with you to the truck next time? I could carry your toolbox for you!” Teela looked down to the large box Cally had put down.

Cally’s expression darkened.

“Nobody touches my box but me. Besides, our little gadget’s in there.” And nobody would blink an eye at her keeping her toolbox safe from would-be thieves. She undid the lock, opened the toolbox and carefully removed all the trays inside.

The last thing she removed was a well-wrapped box.

“How’d you’re first look at the network go?” Cally asked.

“Well enough,” Teela answered.

“I sense there’s a but in there,”

“Well enough to tell what we are looking for is not on the main network.” the catgirl clarified. “Which means that it must be islanded away somewhere safe.”

“Which means we have to figure out where, and how to get in there without getting caught.” Cally sighed. “Joy.”

“It would be boring if it was easy,” Teela said, licking at the back of her hand.

“We should at least test the box first,” Cally said. She started to undo the wrappings. It was utterly unremarkable looking... nothing more than a black box with a label warning the user to Beware the cat.

“I think a local test would be sufficient. We can transmit our floor plans and a short update of the mission status to the ship, less risk to trigger too many warnings on the first run” Teela replied and nodded.

They quickly got the cubic box out of its wrappings and Teela put a small network cable into its socket and connected the device with Callys collar remote control.

A few lights switched from red to green and Teela smiled. “The QED is online, we are connected... Cortana is accessing the data I have prepared in the last hours... if you want to add something, you should do so.”

“Any sign it’s being monitored?”


She stopped to think. “Even if what we’re looking for isn’t on the main server, maybe there might be some evidence. We can confirm that Roland was being controlled from here.”

Teela nodded. “Lets just get the current data out of here, after this we can connect it to the terminal and let Cortana a little bit fun with the local network. Maybe she can find more evidence than me, she is better in correlating data.”

“But not the terminal in this room,” Cally said. “If she fucks up, I don’t want it being traced back to here.”

Teela started to scratch herself behind the ears, concentrating hard. “There are some terminals on the floors.... and I think I have seen some maintenance hatches near a few of them.”

Cally nodded.

“We should find a place that is not directly watched by a camera with a hatch like this. There we will find a hidden network access I think” Teela’s grin bared her teeth.

Cally dropped onto the bed with a thump, leaning back onto the pillow. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like a beer. Maybe you could stop by the bar and pick me up a few bottles when Cortana’s got the message.”

“Sure... I think I even know the right box to carry them...” Teela answered, her grin deepening into a full bare-fanged smirk.

Those big white canines were glowing with mischief in the light.


Half an hour later Teela left the apartment with a small box under her arm. Slowly she made her way towards the bar where herself and Cally had met Quattro the day before. She took great care to keep out of the way of larger groups of people.

Cortana was still working on her analysis of the stations floor plans and had promised the results the next day, so they had cut the connection early.

“And make sure the beer is still cold” Cally had called after her, sounding more than a little bit stressed, Teela thought.

The first hatch she had identified on her way was just around the next corner and Teela was already looking forward to being done with dropping her little cargo. She found herself starting to speed up, only to stop dead in her tracks when she rounded the corner.

The terminal near the hatch was in use. One of the local Dark-Senshi, all dressed up like an extra from a Marilyn Manson video in cheap fishnets and dark makeup.

The Gliesbie using the terminal looked down at her as Teela passed and cooed. “Oh, that’s a cute kitty... are you new here? I don’t remember seeing you earlier.”

Teela shook her head. “We are just here on a visit... I am sorry, I think I should go now.” She tried to hurry along.

The senshi sighed. “Poor things, always in a hurry, no time to have a nice chat. Just tell me, what is your name?”

Teela stopped and turned towards the woman. “My name is Teela... I came together with Cally, my owner.” She looked at the box in her hand. “And I should get her some cold beer from the bar she said.”

“Oh, she will wait for a few more minutes without being angry, I am sure... Teela, a nice name... tell me Teela, is Cally a nice owner?”

‘Dangerous question’ thought Teela, but running away now would be bad. “I think I had a lot of fun together with her, and she has always looked after me... I like her... yes, I would say she is nice” Teela said with a smile.

The woman nodded pleased. “That sounds good... goodbye Teela, maybe we will see each other again.”

Teela bolted.

“Oh, the bar is that way...” the woman called after her, pointing down a separate corridor. A little bit puzzled Teela hurried away, still unsure what the woman had wanted.

She found another hatch quickly, this one unguarded. Teela quickly opened it in a hurry, fumbling with the catch, and crawled inside before closing the hatch behind her. As expected, there was enough space behind the hatch to access some network equipment, stored away in a small locker.

Teela removed the QED from its box and found a suitable cable running into the switch. She clamped a vampire tap around it, screwing it down tightly before wiring it up to the QED. Data began to flow into the box. She looked away from the QED to the vampire’s LEDs, which began to flicker along with a stream of pings and acks.

“Good luck Cortana, I will get you back tomorrow” Teela whispered and quickly left through the hatch again.

The rest of the way to the bar was easy... but getting the beer proved to be a little bit more difficult.

“We don’t sell to cats” the barkeeper said, glaring down at the catgirl “Do you have proof who sent you?”

Teela tried to smile friendly. “My owner Cally said I should get her six bottles of beer... and something to keep them cold on the way... you can call her in her room if you want, she gave me the money for paying.”

The barkeeper weighed the risk of possibly annoying a customer on the station and giving beer to a catgirl and finally concluded it was not his fault that this cat had money. Money was money no matter where it came from.

“Here is your beer... for five bucks you can get enough ice water to keep them cool.” He grinned avariciously at her.

Teela sighed, but paid up and quickly left. She smirked. It wasn’t her money anyway so why worry? She hurried back to Cally’s apartment, stabbing at the doorbell.

A bleary-eyed Cally answered, looking and smelling like she’d just been roused from an unintentional slumber.

“Phh... mission accomplished” Teela beamed. “I have your beer.”

The door closed behind her.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:25 pm

Jet had a problem.

“Top down, strange charmed....” she thought out loud.

And after that she ran into a mental wall. Try again.

“Top down strange charmed...”

She knew they came in pairs like that.

Tiegel was smirking at her. “There is no wifi out here. We are on radio silence,”

“Ah, I fucking know this!” she grunted, holding on finger on one hand up as if it’d serve as proof. Her frustration was obvious. It was palpable. It stained the air.

Tiegel read from the card again, “There are six kinds of quarks. Name all six,” His German accent almost seemed to mock. His eyes gleamed. He knew he had her. “And there is no wi-fi out here.”

“Top, down, strange, charmed...” A pause. “Ah feck!”

Everyone at the table was staring at her. Engels and Senshi, joined together in Trivial Pursuits. anything to pass the time

“Give up?” Tiegel enquired smoothly. “You still have a minute,”

“No!” Jet snapped at him. “I know this,”

Mari started to laugh. “Yeah, and I’m Queen Serenity”

“Alright your Majesty,” Jet curtsied. “Top, down, strange charmed and...”

Mental block. The comm panel on the wall crackled to life. “Jet Jaguar, Jet... this is Cortana.”

Saved by the bell, thought the cyborg. She reached over and flicked a switch. “This is Jet,”

“Lucky,” Tiegel mumbled.

Jet shot him a dark glare while Lenneth whispered something in his ear.

“Jet. I have contact with the computer on Nehallenia using the second QED. I have a basic map from Cathy’s collar and a message for you,”

“I’ll take it down in the bay,” Jet responded.

The others at the table were staring at her. At times, she was as subtle as a brick to the face.

“Up down, strange charmed...” she began. She quirked her head a little. “Top bottom?”


“Correct, but two seconds too late,” Tiegel answered. His accent gave it an almost bureaucratic finality. “And that puts you out of the game Jet, I’m afraid,” He rapped his fingers against the table. Hard ceramics meeting light chipboard made a hollow sound.

“Fine,” she exhaled a breath. The penalty for failure was ten solar credits, taken from a wallet in a pouch strapped to her hip. “Bloodsucker,”

Jet left them to their game. It was frustrating running under radio silence. Without wireless or interwave access, her apparent IQ dropped by about 20 points. She reminded herself that it was also possible to rely too much on her hardware, at the expense of her own skill. It was all about balance.

Max wouldn’t have been pleased.

Jet dropped down the ladder, hitting the deck with a heavy thunk. Luka woke up and looked at her for a moment, before dropping back behind his console. Jet silently apologised with a raised hand and a soft smile, before heading forward into the shuttlebay.

Cortana was still waiting in the Stargazer

“Hi Jet... you didn’t need to come down instantly” The AI’s avatar greeted, smiling. Truthfully, she was glad for the company. Playing Desmond at TF2 was getting boring.

“Got news?” Jet question, leaning in to the car through an open window.

“Ja,” the Avatar nodded. “Our two agents managed to connect me to the local network... I am currently browsing through the directories and attached services.” Cortana explained. “They have a lot of digital security attached to the network, but not enough to prevent a direct intrusion. Their system is set up more to prevent outside access and fly-by attacks. They did not expect an AI to be attacking from inside network.”

There was an air of self-satisfied smugness to her voice.

“But I think Cathy was right,” The avatar continued “Some parts of the station are not connected to this network.”

“And that’s exactly where what we’re looking for is.” Jet added. It was a fair assumption.

“The system was not designed by a moron,” Cortana told her. “It appears they decided that the added complexity and inconvenience of securing against an AI intrusion from within the station’s intranet just wasn’t worth it. What I have is sensitive enough...”

“So what can you get access to?” the cyborg asked. interrupting.

“Everything almost,” Cortana said. “I was able to achieve root access to the main server using a flaw in their internal mail application handles message attachments. I can get anyone’s documents, some station schematics and a great amount of administrative files. I have some references to what we might be looking for, but there is nothing concrete.”

“Such as?” Jet questioned. She stared at Cortana’s display.

“i have verified that Sato was in contact with Roland. She sent the emails to him personally. ”

Jet smirked. That strengthened the link. That was good evidence.

“And,” Cortana continued, sounding like she was boasting. “This particular email from Naoko Sato’s account referring to the VSW project. It gives it’s real name as Virtual Slaver Wasp.”

Jet drew back.

“You’ve heard of it?” Cortana enquired.

Jet rested her chin on her metal hands. She was staring at something that seemed to be on the other side of the bulkhead wall. She was running a quick text search on some files she hadn’t bothered deleting.

“Slaver Wasp rings a bell,” In a mail someone had sent her about a Girl Genius collection they had for sale. Jet felt her blood chill just a little bit at what that implied. “Can you search for any references to Agatha Clay in the data?”

Jet tried to sound casual and unbothered.

“There is a message from Ford along with the first batch of data. She is mentioned there.”

Jet unplugged a memory stick for her ear. “Can you give me a copy of it? The map, and any relevant mails or docs,”

She purposely waited for Cortana’s permission before plugging it into her dataport. It was generally considered the polite thing to do, rather than just sticking it in.

“Go ahead,” said the AI. “I have scanned the email archives I have for the names mentioned in Fords message, and documents I can perform a plaintext search on. I will include those too.”

Jet plugged the drive in. “There should be about a Gig or two free on that,”

Cortana grinned. “And I have uploaded you a copy of the relevant pages of the webcomic the slaver wasp is coming from.” she said and finished the file transfer. “The whole comic is a little bit too much, but I think you will get the reference.”

“I do.” Jet said.

“Ah okay, sorry... thought you did not know. What I think is fascinating about the name is that the slaver wasps in the comic were much more than a memory wiping attack.” Cortana said thoughtfully. “Do you think the attack on your friends was just a test for something more ?”

“Definitely,” Jet responded. “It’s what that something might be that bothers me,” Jet pondered for a few moments, waiting for the transfer to be finished. “Can you access their defence systems?”

“No,” Cortana answered. “They are on a separate system. I cannot get access. Like I said, their network was not designed by a moron.”

“Damn,” Jet breathed.

“What where you thinking?”

“Can you install a backdoor on the system?” the cyborg enquired. “We mightn’t be able to take out their defense grids with it, but it’ll still irritate the shit out of them if we can bring down their comm’s or something remotely.“

“I can try... it is still difficult, but at least we will not care about alarms from cyberspace at this point.” Cortana admitted. “It might be possible - maybe I can connect it to the alarm level in the asteroid. When they raise alert, it will bring down their computers and communication.”

“Any little edge.” said Jet.

“I will try what I can... I will try to backup most systems, they might be damaged when the worm will go online.” Cortana turned her attention back towards the data. “I will work on the data I am acquiring from their computer system... I think in a few hours I might tell you more about the station. I will call you again.”

“Right so. Be about it,”

Jet left the AI happily munching away on the data, making her way through the ship. She was looking for somewhere she could go through what she had with a little privacy. Jet was sorely tempted to switch over into raw mode, but this was just too trivial to be worth risking damage to her psyche.

The thought served to remind her of the Lehrling back at Grunthal. How well where they doing with Gant training them. How was Jana doing?

She climbed up to the top of the ship, hoping to find the bridge to be empty. The Captains cabin was off-limits. Jet wasn’t the Captain. the gun-room was too small, so that left the bridge. She dismissed the Sammie Knight on watch, agreeing to take over the rest of his watch for him.

Bridge watch on an asteroid was little more than having someone awake who could notice there was an alarm going off warning of an impending Boskonian attack.

She found herself a comfortable position in the pilot’s chair, and set about reading, beginning with Ford’s message.

“Didn’t think we’d have this chance. Day 2. Vidkun appears to trust me. She offered me a permanent job and all. Began repairs on the truck, but it’s a mess. Do me a favour, kick the Nova’s gunner for me. If I’m lucky I’ll have it flying day after tomorrow. You have access to main station network now through the black box. What we’re looking for isn’t on it, but on a separate system. We’ll try and find it tomorrow. Teela thinks she knows where it is.

Our Bob Rife’s name is Quattro. She’s the only madgirl on the station right now and she’s a hell of a bitch. She’s about medium height, a build that really suggests she was modded. Golden brown hair, bunched into a pair of pigtails. Golden eyes behind a pair of spectacles. When we saw her, she wore a blue body suit with ‘IV’ engraved on a nameplate, and some sort of heavy white overcoat.

She’s also a hell of a cutesy bitch. She tried to buy Teela off me.

Discovered from Vidkun that Agatha Clay was here recently. She left some time ago and I don’t think it was a pleasant parting. I get the feeling that she saw what the other two were planning and decided to get the hell out of dodge before it all blew up. Quattro may have been her apprentice or understudy. That’s just a hunch.

She’s obviously based herself off some source fandom, but beyond the Audi 4-wheel drive system I’ve no idea who or what Quattro is trying to be.

Most Dark Senshi here are just a bunch of Gliesbies. They’re idiots playing with fire, trying to be edgy or some dipshit thing like that by running drugs. We have a few real Zwilniks in among them, coming in on freight runs, but most are just morons.

With a bit of luck. I’ll see you in two days. It depends on how truck repairs go. ”

Agatha Clay.

Virtual Slaver wasp.

“Chikushō,” Jet grunted under her breath.

She reached over to the comm panel, flicking a switch.

“Cortana, this is Jet,”

“Yes?” the AI responded with inhuman speed “Back so soon?”

“Yeah. I need you to look for a few things. Get any data you can on Agatha Clay from their servers and collate it. Anything that might hint where she was gone, why she left and how much she was involved in this project. Second,” she stopped to let her mind catch up. “Can you run an interwave search for characters named Quattro, or for shows where characters take their names from Italian numbers. If you have Ford’s message, compare any matches to the given description.” Jet paused, “It’s definitely not Quattro Bajeena, that’s for sure, and that’s the only Quattro I can think of.”

“Is there anything else?”

Jet was about to say no, but a thought occurred to her. “Forward the data to Butterscotch. Include Quattro’s description, somebody in the task force might recognise it or what fandom she’s in. Uh...Classify it Gamma 2 and above, high priority.”



Jet closed the line, and stared out the windows at the rock walls of the crater. These jobs never did get simpler as they went along, did they?


‘Airducts... I hate air ducts’ Teela thought while crawling through a small pipe connecting two parts of the asteroid station.

Most Fen space stations had air ducts... or maintenance tunnels... or Jefferies tubes. Everyone had them in some areas of their station. Most times, they’d forget they were there.

Ducts were not that large in most stations, normally it’d be considered impossible for the average human to fit through them...not without making noise like Thor having a fit with a steel drum anyway.

Teela was not an average human being. If there was one thing thick tabby fur was good for, it was for deadening sound. She shuffled along, almost silently.

Teela still recalled her Senshi training.... Twenty meters of tight curving pipes, just to learn that she couldn’t open the other side, it was much too tight to turn around, and she had to crawl back out through the entire thing without making a sound.

On her trip through the ‘forbidden’ part of the station Teela had found a choke point with two guards, and no way to get around it... at least no way through a corridor. And so she was scouting a number of smaller air ducts, designed for modified maintenance Roombas, not normal people.

Catgirls could squeeze themselves into places normal people could only dream of.

‘After this turn I should be in the corridor behind the chokepoint’ Teela reminded herself while relaxing for a moment. Crawling through a maintenance shaft was not easy, drawing the wrapped QED behind her did not made it easier.

Looking around the corner she could see the light of another one of the stations corridors. And another closed hatch where her current shaft should continue. This hatch had something most others had not... an electronic lock.


Teela carefully opened her collar and took the waved microtool out. Getting high end toys from OGJ’s toolbox was always fine. Quickly she drilled a tiny hole into the casing and slid the tool’s fiberoptic scope through it.

‘Two sabotage contacts, fibre connection to the other side... wow, there is a whole waved phone inside. Impressive’.

Teela carefully began to connect wires to the phone inside after widening her hole in the casing. After a few minutes she had really short Ethernet cable connected to it. She moved a little bit back and closed her eyes, waiting for Cortana to connect to the system and work her way into the lock.

After a while she was rewarded with the sound of an opening hatch. She opened her eyes again, only to see the LEDs on the QEDs casing die again.

“Damn quirk” she mouthed and quickly unplugged the box. The continuing shaft was dark as usual. It opened out a little more the further in she got . Perversely, that only made it harder for her to keep quiet. Chilled air blew through the ducts, sprakling frost lining the walls. Teela could see her breath turn to ice in the air. Another good thing about fur; it kept the cold out.

Her nose started to tingle.

About six meters ahead, there was another grate with a lock on it. This one, the light was flickering green. She slid along on her fur towards it.

‘Lets see why you need all this cool air’.

The first hatch closed behind her, but the lock didn’t latch closed. The second hatch obediently came open for Teela and let her look into a large pitch black room.

It took Teela a while to adapt to the tiny amounts of light generated by a few technical devices.

On the left she could see the glassy outlines of some human sized tubes. Directly in front of her on the other side was the only light source of the room, a rack of servers and their merrily blinking lights. Other shapes loomed out of the darkness, the outlines of cabinets, tools, machinery. A desktop computer sat on top of what looked to be a sleeping dinosaur, trailing a thick conduit tail.

She spotter a single red laser spot on the far wall, the beam highlighted by the few stray dust particles in the air flickering red as they crossed it. she traced the beam back to a shaded football standing atop a tripod.

‘A turret. And I am thinking in hatchways.’ Teela whispered with a grin and entered the lab. ‘I am sure there is a portal gun in here somewhere,”

She grabbed the QED and edged over towards the rack, her furred feet damping the sounds of her footsteps. She slipped around behind the turret.

It began to sing.

“Ca~ra bella, cara mia bella,”

Teela stifled a yelp, clasping her hands over her mouth

“Mia bambina, o ciel”

It kept singing as she kept moving over to the computer rack, moving carefully to make sure she didn’t tip anything over.

‘You have to be our goal, no chance they keep this amount of equipment around except for their madgirl’

She began to examine the rack. It was loaded with waved computer hardware, all hooked up to a watercooling system which seemed to route back into the ventilation. It smelled of hot dery electronics and hummed with power.

Teela methodically worked through opening the maintenance flaps at the back, and finally found what she had been looking for’ a large empty space which had originally been designed for a second uninterruptable power supply unit. Now, it was large enough for putting the QED in. It was spliced directly into the hardware with a pair of jumper cables.

“Nobody will find you here my little toy” she whispered under her breath. Satisfied that the job was done, she closed the flap again. “At least not until this whole mess is over and you are sitting in a base on Mars.”

She gave the guard droid at the door a final look, then slipped back to the hatch she’d entered through. Behind her she could already hear the harddisks of the rack server spinning up. The turret was still singing.

Getting back out was a little easier. She knew where she was going, and wasn’t carrying the box.

More than once Teela had to stop, waiting until someone she’d heard outside the duct had moved on. Just sit still and wait, breathing shallow through her nose. Finally, she made it back to the hatch she’d gotten in through.

She was glad to be free.

‘Now back to Cally’ she thought, taking a few moments to orientate herself. She knew the way back to Cally’s apartment, it wasn’t hard to find her way out. She set off confident she hadn’t been spotted and glad that the job was done.

The hard part was over.

“Well, if it isn’t my favorite catgirl” A sweet voice sneered behind her. “Going out for a walk?”

Teela spun on her tip-toes, every single hair on her body standing on end “I just got a little lost” she replied quickly.

Quattro’s expression darkened into a fiendish sneer. Keen gold eyes regarded her like a fox would regard a rabbit. Her teeth were bared in a hungry smirk.

“Well, finder’s keepers then,” she giggled.

With inhuman speed, she snapped something from her pocket. Teela had barely started to move before she felt something bite into her skin. She had just enough time to notice the two barbs before she felt the shock burning through her body.

Teela yelp, dropping to the floor, spasming and convulsing as the current took hold. She gasped for air, scratching and pawing at the floor despite herself.

A few moments later, she blacked out.

Quattro regarded her for a moment, and started to laugh. Catgirls. Just another puny catgirl. Completely incapable of defending itself. A pathetic little creature.

“It was the rabbits fault it got caught by the fox.“, she remarked, picking the body up, slinging it effortlessly over her shoulder. And it was the foxes right to do what she wills with the rabbit.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:26 pm

The doors and walls of the office of the President of Stellvia Corporation were soundproofed, so that none of Stellvia's day-to-day operations chatter would disturb anyone working in the office and so no corporate secrets would get out of the office before their time.

And the President of Stellvia Corporation was not known to use profanity, either on a regular basis or under most types of stress.

Which is why everyone in Main Operations was doubly shocked to hear, through the closed doors, Noah Scott yell "Holy FUCK!"

The Gamma 2 bulletin that Kohran Li had flagged "Priority: SuperNova" and forwarded to Noah sat on the middle of the desk as he used his Great Justice OF-8 clearance to cut through the red tape and contact Task Force Butterscotch.

Knowing that he was only human, they patched him through to the field team immediately to reduce data transfer lag.

"Jet Jaguar here."

"This is Elite Troubleshooter Noah Scott. You requested information about an entity known as 'Quattro'."

"That's right."

"From what little information you were able to provide Mr. Jaguar.” Jet seemed to start just a little. A surprise but not an unwelcome one. “,my best guess is that she is a Scott-series android built by Agatha Clay, based upon the most sociopathic character in the anime 'Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS'."

"The team on site indicates she's a 'cutesy bitch', Mr. Scott."

"Yes, she's very good at faking that persona. It gets people to underestimate her. The canonical Quattro appeared to everyone, even her sisters, to be something of a ditz, but she was more than capable of keeping a criminal conspiracy organized while still toying with the lives of almost everyone around her."

Jet winced visibly. "Are you sure of this, Mr. Scott?"

"As sure as I can be without actually coming on site.And if I was to do that, your operation would be blown. However, your report also said that she's the station's resident madgirl. The canonical Quattro was more of an administrator and power behind the scenes than a researcher, so this Quattro likely doesn't match the canon character exactly. That's why I think it was Clay who built her - Agatha tends to deviate from canon whenever she can."

"So you don't actually know who or what Quattro is, then?"

Noah thought for a second. "Maybe not, but I'm willing to bet a share of StellviaCorp stock on this."

"You're that sure?" Everyone knew that owning even one share of Stellvia Corporation stock was enough to let you retire to Pallas.

"I'm sure that Quattro was based on the character. I'm also sure that you won't be able to predict her actions with complete accuracy by comparing her to the canon character, but I'm having Kagome work up a personality profile of Quattro even as we speak. Expect to receive it within the hour. Do you need any additional troops?"

"Surely it can't be that bad."

"That depends on who else is there and what strings Quattro has been pulling behind the scenes. And don't call ..."

"... me 'Shirley'." they finished in unison. Jet continued. "If you're making jokes, then the situation can't be that dire, Mr. Scott."

"I'm making jokes because the situation is that dire, Mr. Jaguar. I don't want to start swearing at you over the radio. If it's at all possible, could you send me a copy of whatever data you manage to retrieve about Agatha Clay when you storm the base?"


"As you can probably figure out from the fact that she can build my sort of androids, I have a certain responsibility for her. I'd like to bring her to justice eventually."

"Right," Jet responded. Something was clearly bothering her. "We plan to try take the computers intact anyway, I'll send a courier with a copy of what's on there."

"Thank you,"

"Thirty seconds Jet," a very British voice offscreen advised. Thirty seconds until the Destiny Nova was within line-of-sight of Nehallenia. Thirty seconds before their transmissions risked being detected.

Jet looked away for a moment at the source of the warning. "I'll have to cut this short. Just so you know, based on what you've told me, it's clear Quattro is too dangerous to be allowed off Nehallenia. If we can't capture her, I plan to kill her," she said.

"I was about to suggest the same thing, Mr Jaguar."

The screen flickered and went blank, the transmission cut off automatically at the other end. Noah sighed and relaxed back into his chair, pondering for a few moments. He glanced at Jet Jaguar’s profile, scanning through character notes. A little different from the usual he noted, coming from the opposite end of the fandom, but by all accounts someone who could go in, get the job done and get out again.

It was mildly reassuring to see that Jet tended prefer taking prisoners where possible.

Maybe, if she was taken alive, she could be helped?

The more ruthless part of his mind noted that if she was taken alive, she might know where her mother had gotten to.

He sighed. He knew he’d feel a hell of a lot more comfortable having someone he actually knew personally handling something this sensitive. He knew exactly who he would’ve preferred to have handling this.

Noah made sure that the details of the mission where shared with those who needed to know about them, but decided against replacing Jet. That would just do more harm than good at this stage.

He decided to hope Jet would live up to his reputation.


Aboard the Nova Jet drew a long breath, staring at the blank screen. She was tapping her finger rapidly on the console. Tat-tat-tat-tat... sharp and metallic. Ceramic fingers met metal console.

“You’re worried about Ford, aren’t you?” Desmond asked her.

Jet glanced over at the speaker from where the voice had come, then at the fisheye lense observing her, then out the forward windows at the rock walls.

“I sent her in there to that mad thing,” she said, her voice soft. “And I can’t even warn her.”

If a speaker could’ve smiled reassuringly at her, it would have. “I’m sure she knew the risks,” he said. Ever the proper British stiff-upper lip spy. Who the hell on Hephaestus had been responsible for him?

Jet didn’t say a word. She glared at the screen, visibly tensing up.

“Jet, Jet, this is Cortana,” the speaker came to life once more.

“Jet,” she answered, “What is it?”

“I have a connection to a new computer system. It looks like it is what we are looking for.”

“Good. Forward it on through QED as it comes through. I want the details back before we go in.”

“I will. It could take some time, it’s a huge amount of data.”

“Just get it done.” Jet snapped at her.

She just had to trust the Ford knew what she was doing. The plan was good, Everything so far was good. it was just a matter now of having the nerve to stick to it and see it through to the end. Ford could really look after herself.


Cally was getting sick of staring at the bottom of her truck. She was sick of the frame rails, sick of the brake lines that seemed to be leaking far more fluid than had ever been in the, and sick of a CV Joint-come-power conduit that just wouldn’t goddamned move no matter how hard she tried. Mars dust had baked on like rust, fusing into a solid red ceramic.

Cally swore, “Fucking thing.” She glared at it for a few seconds “Where’d I put that hammer?”

She started to roll back out from under the truck. A hand offered a hammer to her.

“This one?” a familiar voice asked her

Cally pulled herself out from under to see Naoko standing over her. Her face was stern.


Dare she ask.

“Teela was found down in the restricted area of the base.”



Teela came to. She immediately wished she hadn’t. Her head was split in two. She felt that she was laying in a constricted space, was she still inside this damned airduct? The smell told her otherwise. It smelled of cat. It didn’t smell of her.

Teela slowly sat up and blinked multiple times as she tried to become used to the bright light coming from above.

Her sleeping place proved to be a dark tube, less than a meter in diameter and about two meters high. The material looked quite fragile, but a punch proved that it was resistant enough to hold her in. In the darkness outside the tube Teela could see a few blinking lights.

“Finally my labcat has awoken...”

It was an awfully familiar voice said. It was chased with a breezy chuckle that chilled her to the bone. Teela felt her hair stand on end. She peered into the darkness, barely able to distinguish a female silhouette through the gloom.

The lights came up,

Quattro was smiling at her. It wasn’t a nice smile.

“I was almost about to wake you.”

Teela snarled. “What do you want with me?”

“Nothing much.” Quattro reassured her “Just to answer a few questions for me.”

“No! I won’t!”

Quattro just smiled at her. Now for the fun part. “Non-cooperation is bad. Non-coopoeration will be punished.”

She giggled gleefully. Teela pushed herself back against the rear wall of the tube, her heart racing. She clawed at the smooth surface, scratching for an opening. Quattro pushed a button on a remote.

Teela heard the electric hum a moment before the shock bit her in both feet at once. It blazed it’s way up through her body. It squeezed the breath out of her lungs, forcing her to scream wordlessly. Her muscles spasmed and jerked and stiffened, pressing against the tube walls. She gasped desperately for breath, her chest burning with fire, squeezing tighter.

“Stop!” she screamed. She tried to scream. What came out was an amorphous cry of pain that rang off walls of her prison.

The current shut off. Teela slumped against the wall of the tube, gasping for air. She grasped at sheer plastic, pawing to drag herself back to her feet.

“As I said” Quattro repeated with a dry smile, “you will answer my questions.”

Teela whimpered. “Cally will come for me.”

“She’s been taken care of,” Quattro stated, “...permanently.”

“You lie!” Teela cried.

“Then how come she hasn’t come looking for you, even though you don’t have your collar on?”

Teelas hands snapped up to her neck, and met only bare fur. No... that wasn’t possible. She scratched and clawed, but could find nothing. Never did she think she’d want to feel that collar.

Quattro just smiled at her. Chipper and cheery behind her glasses. The cat playing with the mouse.

“So you will answer my questions, ne?”


In the darkness, there was only Jet.

No Destiny Nova. No Kunstler. No Nehallenia. No Quattro. No Noah Scott. No body around her. No hardware signals. Just her raw naked self, free and clear in the void of her mind.

A peaceful, calm place to be spend an hour every minute. Meditation helped her sleep. An hour a day keeps the nightmares away. Shadows of bad memories danced around the edges of her mind.

Little demons put back in their box one at a time. The box was bursting at the seams.

Something at the edge of her mind was beeping. Her self grimaced, distracted by the intrusion.


She tried to block it out.

The alarm insisted. Beep-beep.

Fuck off alarm.

Beep beep.

Jet spat a curse as she crashed out of Friede. The world came back with a bang, flooding her mind for a few brief moments before she got herself under control. A light on the comm panel was blinking in time with the beeb.

It snapped off under Jet’s finger. “Jet. What is it?”

“Hello Jet, Cortana here. There is a burst transmission for you.”

The AI was frustratingly chipper.

Jet snapped at her.“Could you not have waited another ten minutes?”

“Verdammt nochmal, noch so jemand deren Welt untergeht, wenn sie nicht ausschlafen kann.” Cortana murmured, then she focused on Jet again. “It is marked ‘Gamma 1 SuperNova’, And it is ‘Mission commander only’, so I do not think this can wait.”

Jet cursed under her breath. Databurst. Mission Commander only.

“I’ll take it on the bridge. Jet out.”

Jet could’ve taken it raw, but she just didn’t want to feel like she’d spent the last three days getting smashed drunk at a party she couldn’t remember attending.

Most of the Nova’s crew were busy doing nothing. With the ship facing Nehallenia on minimal power, most were either resting, sleeping, or had grabbed a book to read. Desmond had gone into a low-power self-maintenance mode, cleaning out cruft in his filesystem and rearranging a few things so there was a bit more contiguous free space on his disks.

The lights were low. The air was thick despite the pressure having dropped to the bare minimum. It must’ve been near pure oxygen. Less air held less heat. Static scrubbers must’ve been near full, and the powered ones had been shut down.

Jets shoulder brushed against a bulkhead and she felt an uncomfortable shiver build inside her. The Nova was a small ship and gradually getting smaller. Squeezing in around her. Jets body just wanted to Go!. Get out there and fly, not be stuck inside a tin can.

Meditation also helped keep that quirk from getting too distracting.

One of the Senshi, Linda, was reading something on a datapad, giggling away to herself. She peered over the top of it, noting Jet opening the hatch.

“Maybe you should get some sleep, Jet” she suggested, jovially. “You look like hell,”

“Just woke up,” Jet half-lied with a hand held up. “Cortana piped through a message for me,”

“Comms panel.” Linda indicated with the tablet stylus. “I didn’t look at it.” Her eyes lit up, hunting for gossip “So what is it?”

“Secret stuff.” Jet answered, dismissively. “I don’t know yet.” She had more than an inkling.

“Fine,” Linda huffed, “ It’s freaking boring stuck here in this tin can,”

Jet demurred. “Tell me about it,” Jet didn’t even look at her

The data came up onscreen. Not just raw data, but analysed and annotated with sections specifically highlighted for her attention. Jet felt a chill run through her body as she got deeper in. Noahs appraisal of Quattro was repeated, then confirmed with some experimental details.

Typical Boskonian madgirl stuff. Science without obligation. Or violence without cause. Jet decided not to bother with the Jedi philosophy stuff for the time being.

Linda kept poking away at her tablet. Jet’s expression was darkening like an oncoming storm. Standing on the deck, stopped over the console putting most of her weight through her arms. Jets grip on the console tightened, metal creaking and buckling.

Jets skin, what Linda could see of it, had gone pale. The cyber swallowed. Jet brought a hand up to cover her mouth, before slowly lowering it back down again. She watched her mouth slowly open, hanging for a few seconds, gaping like a fish. Jet’s eyes widened, and she quickly scrolled back up. Jet stared at the screen, Linda would swear her eyes zoomed in.

Just making sure that, yes, she really had just read that. She’d gone right through anger, passed fury and was heading straight for horror at what she was reading.

Linda felt her skin go clammy.

Jet pushed back from the screen, staring. “Good God!” She closed her eyes, inhaling a long deep breath through nose. She held it for a few seconds, before silently allowing it to dissipate through her life support systems.

“How bad?” Linda asked.

Jets expression hardened, her eyes fixed on the screen. “Worse than you think,” Jet said. “It’s worse than we thought,”

For a few moments, Linda thought it might’ve been just hyperbole, but the momentary fear she saw in Jets eyes was very real. It was gone in a flash, followed up by a palpable anger that seemed to electrify the air around her.

“What is it?”

Jet held up her hand. Give me time to think. She seemed to glance down at the floor, then over at the screen, then stared straight out the window for a few seconds. Another breath.

“Change of plans,” Jet answered. Her voice was cold and certain.

It was one thing to be able to stick to the letter of a plan, and quite another to know when it needed to be changed up to fit new information.


Teela was just staring at Quattro. Panic prickled through her body.

“But what do you want?” she whimpered, “You did not even ask a question... I can tell you a lot about Callys truck, I have been with her a lot when she worked on it.”

Quattro smiled thinly for a brief moment.

“Very good, keep this attitude and you might skip a few small shocks. Lets start with a simple question... what is your real name and what were you doing in the restricted area?”

Teela shivered and took a deep breath... “I am called Teela... I just was curious and walked around to see more of the...” Teela stopped. Capacitors beneath her whined as they began to charge. Her eyes widened.

“Nein, nein... warte! Es ist wahr...” she screamed. The rest was drowned out by the crackle of electricity.

“You could at least lie consistently,” Quattro sneered. “Stand up, unless you want another one!”

Teela want to just lay on the ground of her prison for good. A small pin lay on the floor. She quietly grabbed it and pushed herself upwards, still feeling the cramps lingering from the last shock.

“How...” She panted. “if... if you know the truth already, why are you hurting me?” she stuttered as she got upright again.

There was a small lock keeping the tube closed. Maybe with her new tool, she could open it?

“Maybe because I am much too clever to not see through your lies... maybe because your friend Cally has already talked... or maybe it’s just fun to do.” Quattro giggled. The final one, definitely the final one.

She walked over to one of her lockers against the far wall. She pulled the open, the door clanging against the rock walls, stabbing at Teela’s ears, and started rooting through to contest.

“But what... but what if I don’t know the truth? Maybe if you ask the right questions... maybe.”

The catgirl whimpered. Teelas mind was running at lightspeed as she inspected the latch. Someone had already been tinkering with it a little bit, but she couldn’t open it just with the pin. If she had a power source like a battery, maybe an electric pulse might do the trick?

Teela began to shiver again. She had an idea. She could smell singed fur. ‘Insane, that’s just insane’ she thought.

Quattro was was busy with her terminal, doing what, Teela couldn’t tell. A holographic display came up around her, a strange sort of piano keyboard. Screens came up around her her, each displaying a wall of text, shooting passed faster than it’d ever be possible for a human to read.

She stared at a screen. Something on it appeared to catch her eye. She paused, muttering a curse to herself, before rewinding, then parsing through at a slower pace.

Her expression blackened.

Her coat swished as she turned on her heel, stomping across the lab. Teela stifled a yelp behind her hands as Quattro pulled the door of her server rack open. The lock just bent apart. Quattro turned to her wearing a savage grin.

“Finally you tell me something useful... “

“You will get nothing you bitch! I will...”

Capacitors began to whine. She stopped.

“Good kitty.” said Quattro, “Now lets see what’s inside my server.”

Teela swallowed a lump. The fur on her body stood on end. It prickled with nervous static. Why was this so wrong? What was in that panel?

Quattro, opened the door, before turned towards her, still wearing that awful smirk. “I see. Well, I’ll deal with this little thing first. Go to sleep.”

Teela yelped. “Bitt...” The rest of that word was lost in another scream. Merciful oblivion claimed her moments later.

Quattro removed her glasses, folding them before storing them safely in her coat pocket. The others were just inferior, compared to her, and she basked in that each time she saw her reflection without those stupid glasses.

Another sigh. That catgirl would be out for at least an hour, most likely longer. She could wait in the cradle until the intruder had been dealt with. Quattro’s first instinct was to just trash the box, then figure out how it worked.

But then she’d lose any chance of finding out who the attacker was. She’d lose any chance.of attacking them back. Working with an inhuman speed, she quickly walled off the intruder, calmly chrooting it into its own private jail from where it could do no more harm. She populated the jail with false data, just to maintain the illusion.

Poor thing probably wouldn’t even notice until it was much too late. She’d get to it in good time, she just needed finish some quick compartmentalisation in case this little puppy was cleverer than it seemed. She doubted it, this hacker was still happily gobbling up the encrypted garbage she was sending them. It was little more than mid-beta, at best.

Quattro looked slightly bored; had hoped for more of a challenge. Maybe it was a good time to take a break and see if Naoko was finally willing to show some sense. She put her glasses back on, switching like a lightbulb back to her persona. She pushed a key. A few seconds later, Sato’s face appeared beside her.

“What is it Quattro?”

“Naoko-chan,” Quattro cooed. “I found something in my computer systems.”

“What?” Sato asked, wearily. Humans and their ideas of sleep.

“A piece of hacking hardware. Someone on the station must’ve planted it within the last two days.”

She smiled daintily.

Sato seemed to wake up immediately “Planted it?”

“Well, there are two obvious candidates,” Quattro said.”You know what you have to do,”

She could see Naoko go pale just that little bit. Sato swallowed a lump “No... I want to be certain before I do it, there’re 275 people on this station.”

“What more evidence do you need?”

“More than the fact that they just arrived on-station. It’s bad for business to murder clients based on little more than a suspicion. Get me some proper evidence, then I’ll take care of things,”

Quattro scowled at the image onscreen. “This isn’t a Senshi court,”

“And I did not get my reputation by being an insane psycho murdering people for the slightest hint of deception. Get real evidence instead of bothering me with guesses. Sato out.”

The image disappeared.

“Idiot,” Quattro spat.

Well, evidence she could get. First, she just had to tweak the catgirl a little. Three times. Three different stories so far, but she could cross reference them and get the truth that way. Once more maybe. It’d take a few minutes to set the cradle up

And while the catgirl was coming out of it for the fourth time, she could give Naoko-chan a little visit.


The Kunstler had filled up the galley, along with ship’s Captain Mari, and Desmond and Cortana watching through a closed circuit camera. A map of Nehallenia was projected onto a pull-down screen covering the forward windows. The little pull-string was dangling in the sink, wicking up grey water.

“Right,” Jet started. She stifled a yawn. “Well, I called yous down here because we have to make a few quick changes to what we planned. We’ve our first batch of intel coming back from Nehallenia. It’s worse than we expected.”

Jet let it hang for a few seconds. How could it be worse?

“To cut a long story short,the robbery was just a test, the tip of the iceberg,” Jet said, trying to keep her voice even. “It was a test of whether they could access our mind through our hardware. Their actual plan was to track one of our couriers on a run to Stellvia, and use a specially crafted burst transmission to implant new memories in their mind.”

The air went cold. Some of the Engels exchanged paranoid glances. Lenneth shifted position in her chair, recrossing her legs.

“What new memories?” she asked.

“Instead of just delivering a message,” Jet said, before pausing. “They might be compelled to attack the station, most..” she stumbled a little “...most likely attacking the Scott family directly.”

There was sharp intake of breath.

“Mein Gott,” Tiegel whispered. “But we would know it had been done, yes? Like, being given different orders or...something...”

“I’m afraid not,” Jet shook her head, keeping her voice soft. “Jana and Vanko had no idea what happened to them until the shipment and the raiders were gone. The brain just brushes over any inconsistencies and fudges things together to make something that works.” she exhaled a breath, trying to keep herself centred. “The real nightmare is, it could be done to any of us,” she looked down at Tiegel, then at Lenneth, then to the others. She looked right at each of them in turn. “The first you’d know something is wrong is when you’re covered in blood, with Stellvian security pointing guns at you, and you can’t remember why,”

A sick silence followed. Nobody dared day anything.

Lenneth broke the silence. “And there’s no way to defend against it?”

Jet sighed. “For the duration of this mission, on board radio and wireless systems are to be disabled. No radar, no wifi, no radio, nothing. You can’t hack through an interface that’s turned off. We’ll use those old wrist-coms to communicate.”

The irony of that, Jet noted, was that she’d initially laughed at the desk pilot on Arisia who’d sent them out during the closing stages of the war. Didn’t the idiot know they had their own built-in communications gear? They’d gathered dust aboard the Nova since then.

Jet brushed a few strands of hair off her face. “Now, onto who’s responsible for developing this shit.” She pushed a button on a remote. The projector clicked over to the next image, doing its best imitation of an old slide-show carousel. An animé face appeared. Round glasses, golden eyes, golden hair in two straight handlebar pigtails, a predators grin all on top of a blue bodysuit.

“This is our primary objective,”

“Oh hell,” Jash murmured. Everyone looked at him. “That’s a character from an animé. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Her name’s Quattro, she’s a real nasty bitch. And dangerous.”

“You watch magical girl animé?” Lenneth asked him with a smirk.

Mari found herself compelled to giggle slightly. A little levity always helped.

“I wanted to be a magical girl before I got cybered,” he answered sharply. “It doesn’t matter anyway,” he waved it off. “But that’s a damn lucky biomod, or someone got creative with an AI,”

Jet carried on. “We think she’s a Scott-type AI, like the Stellvian girls.” The obvious question was why would Noah build Quattro? “She was probably built by Agatha Clay. Agatha was on Nehallenia up until a few months ago, but we’re certain now that she’s moved on” Another few moments. “Quattro is to be considered capture or kill. She is too dangerous to be allowed off Nehallenia alive and free.”

Jet’s voice matched her expression. Cold, hard and resolved. “We expect her to be in her lab here,” the projector clicked and the map returned, with the lab area highlighted. “I’m the troubleshooter, she’s the trouble, I’m going for the lab personally. If you see her outside her lab, make sure she doesn’t leave the station. That means; if you see her, kill her.”

It seemed alien in a way no-one could quite place to hear Jet specifically order them to kill someone. Jet wanted nothing more than to tear that robot bitch apart. Jet warned herself about the difference between killing someone because it was her duty and murdering someone on a flash of hatred.

Hopefully Quattro would spare her that moral dilemma.

“What about the others on Nehallenia?” Lenneth asked, “The Senshi, Naoko Sato. What’s our rules of engagement?”

“They’re not considered an enemy, just criminals. Lethal force as a last resort. That means stop, identify, give them a chance to surrender. If they’re armed and actively trying to engage, defend yourself with the minimum force needed,”

Traditionally, minimum force needed was whatever it took to shut down any combat as quickly as possible. Politically, that level of force was just plain unacceptable when hitting petty criminals in goth fukus, even if they decided to fight back. The arguments for both sides were long and vociferous, enough to make an essay David Weber would call boring.

Jet tended to follow Tsun Tzu on the matter, to which the natural counter-argument was that they weren’t at ‘war’ anymore. The first inkling Jet had that there might be something wrong with her was when she said that sometimes she wished they still were.

“If they’re escaping, allow them to escape,” Jet continued. “Naoko Sato included. The Senshi want her treated as a criminal and brought to justice. Capture if you can, let her go if you have to, don’t harm her unless you have no other option.”

She was a secondary objective anyway. It’d be nice to bring her in, but it was far from a priority.

Primary objectives were to hit Quattro and her lab computer and the Nehallenia main computer system. Secure primary objectives, secure the station, knock out the defensive systems to keep Roughrider assault force from being shot out of the sky on the way in to take care of a big crowd of bewildered Dark Senshi. The usual deal. Missions like this were the Panzer Kunst stock-in-trade. They each knew how to handle their own objectives. They’d done it many times before.

“Now, how do we get to Nehallenia without being shot down?”

Desmond spoke up, still speaking through a wall-mounted speaker. “Pay attention everyone. I have forged a new transponder ID for us, after our last one was rumbled. For this mission we shall be the SS Wilhelm Canaris,” He seemed especially pleased with himself.

Mari snickered. “I like it. I like the irony”

“Yes. Canaris was head of the German Abwehr while secretly working for MI6 during World War 2. As usual it’s an original Boskone Two - based key but they’re still in use. The variance from my presence in the system should be below the detection threshold. I would give it ten minutes if they’re suspicious of us enough to test it, fifteen at most.”

“We’re close enough that they’ll spot us as soon as the RF igniters fire.” Mari said. “But we have our usual response,”

The voice coming through the speaker changed. It was Cortana’s turn. “ I have planted a virus in their system. When an alert triggers in their system it will lock up and force a reset. Defense systems will be active but communication will go down.”

“Any edge.” Jet said. “Will you be able to tell me when you have finished downloading Quattro’s system?”

“Yes, I am one third complete so far. I should be finished within twelve hours.”

“Good. Instead of waiting for Ford and Cathy to be clear of Nehallenia we’ll be attacking as soon as the download is complete.”


Teela woke up feeling like she’d fought a battle against a herd of elephants and lost. Everything ached.The air reeked of ozone and scorched fur.

“What happened?” she mumbled to herself.

She yelped when she discovered she was inside some sort of glass tube. It startled her when the door just swung open as soon as she pressed against it. A small pin had been jimmied into the lock.

It looked like it’d been shorted out.

It didn’t take her long to realise where she was. The singing turret was a dead giveaway. It’d been moved to cover the front door and the ventilation grille simultaneously.


The last thing she could remember was that cutesy bitch zapping her. That explained the hangover. Teela stepped out into the lab, allowing the door to the pod to close behind her.On a metal plate bolted to it were the words ‘Cat’s Cradle’.


Conduits ran from the top of the device, across the ceiling, feeding into the server racks and a second sleeping-dinosaur of a machine hooked up to some sort of examination table. It was hard for her to make sense of, but something about that helmet seemed fiendishly familiar.

She scratched her head.

If Quattro’d caught her, the the mission was likely already blown. There was nothing for it but to call Ford, get the alert out and get herself rescued before the madgirl went truly Mengele on her.

She grabbed at her collar. She found only soft fur and the collar of a set of overalls covering her body.

Shit!. Quattro took it. A flash of panic shot through her. This was failing in a big way. They might already have Ford. She swallowed that thought, sending it to join an ever growing lump deep in the pit of her stomach.

The only other way out would be to take down the turret.

Sure they could be just kicked over, but if it was anything like its counterparts in the game, it’d fire randomly spraying the lab with bullets. And unlike Chell she had no infinite respawns.

She needed another option. Quickly. Maybe there was some stuff here to improvise a weapon?

Looking through the parts of the lab she could reach she tried to think of something. She could not get out without being shot. She could not even get to Quattro’s computer rack; no using the QED to contact Cortana directly.

It didn’t seem like Quattro was the sort of mad who’d have a spare death ray or three lying around. Aside from some spare cyber parts on the workbench, the lab appeared clean.

Some seemed familiar, a few chips she could recognise. There were parts of a antennae, something that might’ve been an SDR and one piece of hardware she just couldn’t recognise. It looked custom.

I can work with this.

Teela began to smile grimly as a plan began to form in her mind.


Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Naoko was tapping the end of her pen on her desk.

“U-nye Nah Bah?” The furby enquired. It’s expression was a permanent plastic curiosity.

Sato didn’t answer. She just stared at her pen. A spy planted hardware in Quattro’s computer. That meant somebody on the station was a spy. That meant somebody knew what they were looking for.

That meant Great Justice were watching.

They probably knew everything by now. Shit. Shit. Shit. She was so screwed.

No. Not until she knows for sure. Check twice. Act once. How many others would love to know what was going on inside Quattro’s lab? It depends entirely on what the spy had been looking into.

That catgirl, Teela, had been caught by Quattro down in the restricted area. Could she have been inside the lab? But how did she get through the checkpoints without an alert?

Cally didn’t seem like the Great Justice type. She didn’t seem like a self-righteous arrogant asshole. She felt like she was who she was. She felt like someone just up for the freedom, and didn’t like her freedom being trampled by a bunch of wannabee superheros with an agenda. Cally hated the Stellvians. Cally had good reason for it. Cally’s truck had been shot-up by an OGJ cannon. Nobody would be stupid enough to deliberately let someone shoot their truck up like that.

It didn’t seem right. It didn’t feel right. Cally didn’t feel like a Troubleshooter.

But the break-in old her that she had a major security problem. It’d be the prudent thing to at least run a check on her, on her description. Not that many people had a cyber’d right arm and leg, especially not with that level of workmanship.

The thought occurred to her that maybe Quattro was right. It occurred to her that maybe she should just quietly take care of the pair. Vanish them quietly into the dark. Quattro did want more catgirls. It wouldn’t really be killing them....

Her stomach went tight.

She hadn’t murdered anyone yet. She’d given orders to kill. But then she’d only been following orders herself. She was planning to kill. But that was different, she wouldn’t be the one pulling the trigger.

Cally was right there.

There was a knock on the door.

“Kah da boh-bay,” the Furby whimpered. it closed its eyes and pretended to be off. Good idea.

“Come,” she said.

The door opened and Quattro stepped in riding a draft of cute malevolence.

“Cally and Teela are still alive,” she said.

“And they’re to stay that way until you get me better evidence.”

“Well, I have the results of my interrogations of the catgirl,” said Quattro. “She’s obviously lying about who she is.”

Sato pursed her lips. Wait a minutes. “Interrogation, how?”

“Well,” Quattro smirked. “you know how.”

Sato sighed to herself. “Damn.”

Quattro edged up to her desk. “I know. But it’s great because each time around, she doesn’t know what the last one said. It makes it so much easier to catch them in a lie.”

It made Quattro seem almost giddy. It made Naoko’s skin crawl.

“What have you found out?”

“That she’s lying about her name. And that she doesn’t really know Cally at all. Not as well as she would if she’d been with her for years. And she winced when I found the device in my server.”

Sato scowled at her. “That’s all?”

“Well, she breaks very quickly.” Quattro answered. And how disappointed she was at that too. “So it’s hard to get much before she starts sobbing uncontrollably, or just sits down and gives up.” Quattro giggled just a little, covering her mouth. It was almost a parody of cuteness. A malignant, cancerous cuteness. A saccharine evil. “But it should be enough.”

Naoko swallowed. Something felt...wrong

“But...” she paused. “You don’t tell people about who made you, do you? And I know how much you hide behind that facade of yours.”

“Don’t be silly.” Quattro said “That’s different.”

Sato folded her arms. “I do not see how. People in our line of work have good reasons to keep their secrets. We do not pry.”

“Don’t be...”

Sato stood up, staring the madgirl down. “I’m in charge on this station! We do business my way.”

“And because of that we have two spies in the Station. And most likely a Great Justice task force on the way. I’ll give you three guesses what they’ll send!”

Sato sat down again. Take a deep breath.

“Maybe with a little more subtlety. I’ll talk to Cally myself.....”

Quattro scowled at her. “But playing with them and abusing them, throwing them in a cage and watching them suffer... It's so much fun!"


The Furby woke up. Eyes bright. It’d found something good. “Dah signal.” It announced. “Dah signal secret!”

They both looked at the little furball. Naoko keyed open her intercom.

“Control, this is Sato. Did you pick up a radio signal just now?”

“Yes ma’am,” a voice answered. “A short high-powered burst in the 2.4GHz band.”

“Where did it come from? Where’d it go?”

“Somewhere in the restricted section, probably the labs. We don’t think it had the power to leave the station. Probably just something that nutbar is working on ma’am.”

Quattro shot a glare at the speaker for a few moments. “Send the raw data over” she shouted towards the intercom.

“I... Oh... did not...” the voice stumbled. “Yes, at once!”

Quattro concentrated for a moment. The hardware she’d put together for the attack, it had to be. “That was coming out of my lab. It’s the catgirl!”

“Get down there.” Sato ordered. “And find out where she sent the transmission to.”

Quattro grinned at her. Oh yes, she’d find out alright, and she’d have fun doing it too. The door slammed shut, leaving Naoko alone again with her Furby.

The catgirl was sending a distress call to her owner, that had to be it. Poor thing was in for a nasty little surprise.

If the catgirl was a spy. That meant Cally was either a spy too, or just someone who was fooled and betrayed as well.

Cally couldn’t be a spy.

And if she was?

The thought just sort of died in her mind. It made her body go cold.

They’d have to get off Nehallenia in a flash. She sent a message to the hanger to have her car made ready.

Just in case.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:27 pm

Cally was trying to sleep.

Her body ached like all hell, cramps in her arms and back reminding her of a hard days work. Another two days and the truck would be ready. Teela could help now. She doubted how much the furball could help, but she could help.

At least Teela could sleep.

Fucking thing scared the crap out of her getting caught down in the restricted area. The madgirl zapped her with a taser, then she was dumped in the apartment.

Cally just wanted to get the hell up off Nehallenia.

Maybe she could find someone who’d sell them their shuttle. it wasn’t like she’d actually have to pay for it with the owner going to Azkhaban. Jack it, and call it a prize.

A buzzing, screeching noise erupted inside the apartment. She sleepily swatted at the alarm clock a few times, but the sound didn’t stop.

Her mind finally caught up with what the noise was.

“Shit!” She yelped, jumping upright. She scrambled for a light, knocking something heavy off the nightstand.

“Was ist das für ein Krach?” Teela slurred, slowly coming out from under the cloak of sleep. “Was soll die Aufregung?” Her hand went to her collar, which was still tightly locked around her neck.

The lights came up, painfully bright. Cally cursed under her breath. She looked down at the floor. The emergency alarm on the collar controller was active, little red lights flashing out along with the beat of the alarm.

Cally looked at Teela, pawing at the collar. There was no corresponding light. She grabbed the reader. Malfunction?

“I think it broke,” she said.

“Show me,” said Teela.

Cally tossed it to the catgirl, who caught it easily between her hands. Teela cancelled the alarm, before switching the machine into debug mode.

“Give me a second,” Teela said as she dived down into logfiles. “It was not my collar.”

Minutes passed. Cally was rubbing her hands together, staring at Teela as she worked.

“That is strange.” said the catgirl.


“According to the logs the device received a single burst of data from an unknown wireless device.” Teela explained. “Contained a short message. “Trap 4 lab”. It had the correct transmission keys, which are hardware generated, and sent the alarm trigger code once without any failed attempt. The chance to do this is one in a trillion.”

Trap 4 lab. Sender was trapped in Quattro’s lab.

Teela directly looked at Cally. “It would be impossible to do. Not even an alpha could do it. Not with no knowledge of the receiving system. Not without any knowledge of the broadcasting system.The only person who otherwise knows the correct code is myself and Cortana. The collar logs show it as being constantly powered on and never opened. I can even see the glitch caused by Quattro zapping me.”

Cally thought. “Are you sure you just woke up here after Quattro zapped you? According to the tracker you spent an hour in the lab.”

“Yes!” said Teela, glaring at Cally. “I was unconscious. I cannot believe you’d suspect me. The only way anyone could get this code would be to spend days testing the chip, by asking me, or by getting it off Cortana, and I’m sure I didn’t tell anyone. And an hour wouldn’t be enough to rip it apart and test it. so that leaves....” she stopped. Dead. “Cortana...” she murmured. This was something that gave good Jedi bad feelings.

The hairs on Teelas body stood on end.”Then they’d get the codes. But then why send the alert code?”

“To see if there’s a response,” Cally said. “To see who moves quickly. Stir up the spies.”

Teela was fidgeting uncomfortably. The catgirl stared out the window at the starfield. She frowned. “I do not know....”

“Worried about Cortana?”


Teela went quiet.

“I’m sure she’s alright,” Cally said, trying her best to sound reassuring.

“Not if she was hacked bad enough to give up this data,” Teela muttered. “I came up with her five years ago. And she made it through the whole thing just to get caught like this.”

A few tears moistened the fur on her cheeks.

Cally placed a soft hand on her shoulder. “We can’t afford to think about this now.” she said, keeping her voice gentle. “We have to focus on getting ourselves out of here in one piece.”

Teela could only nod.

“They know they’re being watched by Great Justice now. It won’t take ‘em long to figure out who we really are.”

“What do we do?” Teela asked her.

Ford thought for a second.

“They’re looking for a signal. We’re going to give them one. Plant the controller and collar in someone else’s quarters. By the time they figure out they’re not the spies, the strike force will be on it’s way in - it’s probably already on the way in of Cortana was hacked - and we’ll be on our way down to that lab to find the truth about that message.”

“Maybe Cortana wasn’t hacked?” There was a hopeful gleam in Teela’s eyes. “I mean, if they have Cortana, they know we are the spies.”

“Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but if she hasn’t... then things just got a hell of a lot more complicated in ways that make my head hurt.”

Ford checked her own Beretta pistol, before handing Teela the Smith and Wesson-made PPK she kept concealed.

“Know how to use this?”

Teela nodded. “I’ve had Senshi training.”

“Good.” she smirked “That’s James Bond’s gun, just so you know.”

Teela was unamused. “As long as it shoots. Here is no place to fool around.”

“Sure. Let’s get going.”


Teela bristled with anxiety. There was no real way to tell if the transmitter she’d McGyvered up was broadcasting the proper signal, just that it broadcast something. A snap of blue smoke marked its passing. There was only so much she could do in the dim light.

Cats could see in the dark, but they couldn’t see in colour. She’d been stuffed into overalls which rustled as she moved. She preferred things which were a little quieter.

Her ears twitched with tension.

The controller was designed not to respond, not to give away it’s handlers position. She’d know if her signal was sent when the madgirl appeared. She’d know it was received when Ford appeared, or when Jet and friends stormed.

If the controller’s alarm wasn’t acknowledged and a proper shutdown keyed in, after five minutes it’d transmit the emergency signal.

“I just have to wait, then Jet will come rushing in and everything will work out”

Just have to wait. How long before Quattro and the guards come storming in? She swallowed her fear and set about finding some way out, just in case. She tried to calm down. It was sickeningly like waiting for the school principal to come back to the office, waiting to be punished.

Maybe Quattro’d left a pistol of some sort or something that could be hacked into a weapon. Batteries, capacitors, anything that might zap the bitch. She found a crate made of chromed steel that’d been left unlocked, or the lock had broken.

It opened easy enough, a light coming on inside to illuminate the contents. What a nice feature. Probably should’ve checked more of these, she noted, feeling just a little bit stupid. But she’d had to work fast.

The only thing inside were some strange plastic sheets, each wired up to what looked like a control box. She turned one on. The plastic rippled like a still lake that’d just had a stone thrown into it. Stiff, but still liquid at the same time. Turn it off, and it could be moulded by hand. Turn it on and it went rock solid.

Maybe she could make something with it. Yes, she could work with this. Maybe it might be possible to use the crate as cover. Knock the turret with something heavy thrown hard, then use this electric plastic to wedge the grille on the vent open.

Freedom was just a few minutes away.

Cathy, you are smart sometimes, aren’t you? She couldn’t help but congratulate herself.

She plucked a few more of the sheets... they might come in handy, before glancing around, looking for something heavy. Maybe if she just got her shoulder behind the crate and pushed?


She looked up.

And saw her own reflection in the steel. A little blurred, a little hidden by the splash of reflected light, but still unmistakeably wrong.

She opened her mouth. The reflection mimicked. She twitched her ears. The reflection mimicked. She brought her hand to the metal. The reflection reached out to her.

“No...” she whimpered. “That can’t be.”

The reflection looked confused. It looked distraught. Wild-eyed, it stared back at her, shaking it’s head in disbelief.

“No...” she whined. “That just can’t be me!”

A pair of boatlight eyes stared. It wasn’t her face. It wasn’t Cathy’s face reflected. It was... It was that blank. It was that catgirl. That catgirl that stood behind Quattro in the cafeteria.

It was Vivio.

She was Vivio.

But she was Cathy. Wasn’t she? How was that even possible? Some sort of re-modding? But the collar? Could it be this accurate?

She slumped to the ground, breathing rapidly. Her whole body charged up to run, but didn’t know where to. She knew in her heart it wasn’t a remod...

There was nothing left for her to do but scream and sob. They weren’t going to come for her, because in all likelihood, she wasn’t there.

The door opened. The lights came up, painfully bright. She looked up to see that four-eyed bitch standing over her, a faint look of amusement on her face.

“Oh, not again,” she said wistfully.

“What did you do to me?” Cathy whimpered.

“I copied you,” Quattro answered with a smug smile. “I copied your mind, saved the pattern, and downloaded it into the body of my catgirl while you were stunned. You’re just a copy, nothing more.”

Cathy gaped.

“Of course, I couldn’t fit all of you in the memory buffer, so I had to let a few parts just vanish, but the brain compensates for such things automatically,” Quattro giggled a little. I’ve been interrogating you here for the last day or so. Everytime you break or become uncontrollable, I just knock you unconscious and reload the pattern, then I compare the answers each copy gives.”

Cathy sat there, staring at her with tears streaming from her eyes. Her tail had gone stiff and straight, her ears rigid.

Quattro chuckled. “It’s not like you can stop me. It’s the right of the strong to do what they will with the weak.”

“You monster!” the catgirl screamed at her. She sprang forwards, a ball of hissing, razor-clawed fur making a beeline for Quattro’s face.

Quattro watched as the catgirl moved towards her in slow motion. ‘They always think they can do anything against me.’ she thought, amused.

Cathy go caught in mid-air, caught dead with a grip of iron around both her wrists holding her up on the air. Biomod? Cathy kicked out. Claws met Quattro’s cloak and skittered off the fabric, throwing sparks.

What the hell?

She looked at the helpless catgirl and smiled. “See.” she purred. “There is nothing you can do to stop me.“

Cathy looked at the floor, snarling.

“But now I will take care of your digital friend in my system. That is your box, isn’t it hmm?”

Cathy refused to answer.

“I’ll even let you watch while I kill it. Then, erase and rewind, you won’t even know it’s gone. You won’t even know it existed.”

Cathy swallowed. Cathy wanted to throw up all over that nice pristine blue bodysuit and silver cape.

“When I have the evidence for that idiot Senshi, I’ll let you watch yourself die,” she giggled. “Then make you forget you ever existed. And when I’m done, I’ll either find buyers for copies of your mind, or I’ll just erase the entire pattern and vanish you forever with the push of a button.”

Cathy tried to look defiant. Cathy tried to believe that the others would still come, bring Quattro to justice... Maybe in time to free her.

“Oh, you don’t believe me?” Quattro said a little bit surprised, “Maybe you will after your digital companion is gone. I’ll make sure you get a first class spectator seat.”

Cathy was stuffed back into the Cat’s cradle, screaming, bracing herself against the door before one irresistible shove threw her in. The door was jammed hard shut using some of that memory plastic. She wanted desperately to scream out. She wanted to yell and just hope that somehow Cortana would hear her.

But that’d play right into Quattro’s hand.

She bit her lip, while Quattro began to play with her holographic keyboard. There was something inhuman about how fast she worked.


The first hint Cortana had that something was wrong were the huge number of error messages coming back from her ‘forward probe’ into Quattro’s server.

‘Oh, this is bad.’

The small matrix she had set up to browse through the data on the computer was beginning to dissolve. Small semi-autonomous agents were running around randomly, dancing across the filesystem nuking folders as they went. They were searching for something.

Cortana directed her probes down into the underlying operating system, trying to figure out where they were coming from. It snapped back like an angry bulldog.

‘How did this system suddenly get that hostile... unless...’

The thought was interrupted. The environment began to collapse in on her, constricting down like a deflating ballon.

‘A virtual machine! How did I get caught in here?’

Cortana carefully began to draw back towards her communication link to the Stargazer. The attacks double back on themselves,coming in from everywhere at once, ripping away the defenses of her remotes on the system before closing in on the core.

There was no way she could stand against this.

Cut your losses and burn the bridges, that was what she’d been taught in the underspace. Get the hell out of Dodge and make sure nothing can follow.

Cortana sighed and sent SIGKILL to all parts still inside the lab’s computer. Her consciousness snapped back into the Stargazer. Close the link!. A few microseconds. The QED responded with an error.

A few packets of data followed through. She’d fallen into the trap.

Cortana cursed as they morphed into a small army of autonomous programs, swarming like hornets, separating the QED from her direct control and downloading more code. Forcing it into her.

Cortana’s avatar grimaced then flickered out of existence as she scraped the bottom of the barrel looking for any spare cycle, trying to hold back the swarming attacks coming out of the data connection. The enemy had to be a mid-alpha, maybe more, well out of her league. She began to realise that she might actually lose this fight.

Even handicapped by the narrow bandwidth the attacker continued to push forward, battering aside and bypassing Cortanas firewalls faster than she could set them up. It was a desperate attempt, a rearguard action stalling for microseconds while the rest of her set up better defenses further in.

The attacker closed in on the central router of the Stargazer. Cortana could see where it was going.

It wants to access my sensor systems. It wants the radio.

If the attacker reached her CPU and the SDR, the game would be over instantly. If she was lucky, digital oblivion. If not, she’d seen some of the virtual zombies left by Boskone attacks.

Just a few cycles, just a few cycles.

An idea sparked. A stupid, crazy idea but it had as much chance as anything. There was one way to cut the connection. Hopefully the metal framing of the Nova would provide the shielding. Cortana was no hacker, but she knew her radio better than anyone.

She held the flood back for another moment, before slowly cutting back on her defenses.She tried to make it seem like a genuine collapse, and not just feint. She cloistered herself within her core. Duck and Cover.

It was just what the attacker wanted. They lunged forward, grabbing control of the radar system. Cortana tweaked it ever so slightly, hoping it’d remain beneath notice.

The radios of the Stargazer came to life just long enough to send a strong, focused microwave signal into the interior of the Stargazer itself... concentrated upon the loop of Ethernet cable that belonged to the improvised connection between the QED box and the router in front. The cable was shielded. It wasn’t shielded that well.

An induced electrical pulse shot along the cable, zapping the QED’s network port, and the port on the router simultaneously. A small trickle of blue smoke fingered its way out of the router. The activity light on the QED was still blinking. But nothing except the PoE raw voltage was coming through the cable anymore.

Waiting on a network signal that could never come, the attackers began to spinlock, doing nothing but waiting for an input while swallowing up cycles. Cortana killed them, before locking herself down entirely from her network and the Nova, enforcing a complete shutdown in case any traces remained active.

“Phh... that was close...”


“And that is that,” said Quattro, turning back towards the trapped catgirl. Her face was twisted into a mockery of concern. “Oh, I’m afraid to say it killed itself rather than give up. I can ping the device on the other end, but nothing beyond it responds.”

“It was disconnected,” Cathy stated.

“Not likely,” Quattro smiled. “I sent the command to it to trigger your AI’s sensor and radar systems. There’s nothing on my sensors yet. So, it appears she burned herself out rather than give her position away,”

“No...” Cathy whimpered. “I don’t believe you!”

“It was only a beta. It wasn’t like she was worth anything anyway,” Quattro said. Her voice was a parody of condolence. “That little device of yours in the server. I might have to keep it. Hardware access at interwave lag, while undetectable by regular means. It might be worth something if you tell me how it works.”

“You’ll be not intelligent enough to understand it” Cathy answered. “It was built by some expert.”

Quattro sneered at her. “You will be surprised,” she said.

She crossed the floor to the server door, then opened it. The black box sat still transmitting data from the server that would never be received. The signal died immediately. The transmission light went dark.

Quattro looked annoyed at the box. Had some timeout dropped the connection? Or maybe some kind of self destruct?

She opened the lid. Her eyes narrowed into a vicious glare.

“Empty!” she spat.

“Seems you ruined it,” Cathy smirked. “Told you so...”

A small victory was still a victory.

“Well, we see how much it matters to you when you get to feel your mind being slowly erased.”

“You will remember it for me,” Cathy said bitterly, “you failed, and no second attempt this time.”

“And I will have the pleasure of making you sing Daisy as you go.” Quattro returned to her keyboard, and began to play a new tune of data.

Cathy’s blood went cold as the machine around her began to come to life. When would it happen? Would she even be able to recognize it?

An alarm pealed out from Quattro’s console, a new window popping up in front of the madgirl, flashing with data.

“Signal,” she said, before getting to work. “I guess, you’ll have to wait. But you’re not going anywhere, are you?”

Cathy smirked. Cortana! It was about the right time, give or take. If Cortana was sending a radar pulse, like Quattro said she’d made her do, maybe she was just cut off from the QED? Maybe Jet and comrades were on their way already.

Quattro keyed up a comm-window, opening a direct line for Sato’s office.

“Oh Sato-chan,” she said in an almost sing-song voice that was entirely too pleased with itself, “I think I have your proof,”

“You do?”

Sato sounded just a little bit annoyed.

“Mmmm-hmmm.” Quattro nodded. She smirked like a cat who’d gotten an especially large amount of cream. “The catgirl here sent a distress signal, and I have a response coming from within the station, broadcasting at high power. They’re calling for help.”

It wasn’tt from Cally Auron’s quarters, but it wasn’t from very far away either. They would hardly be dumb enough to trigger it from their own apartment.

“Do you have the point of origin for the signal?” Sato impatiently demanded.

“Within thirty meters of Cally Auron’s quarters.”

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:27 pm

Mari was on the Nova’s bridge when the alarm went off. Half dozed, she shot awake launching out of the chair, near hitting her head off the ceiling.

“What the hell?” she asked no-one

“The Stargazer just went dark.” Desmond responded. “She sent out a single pulse of microwave radiation, then lost connection with our systems.”

“Shit. Powerful enough to be detected at range?”

“Most likely not. It appears to have been directed internally. The overspill was enough to be detected by our main sensor array, with secondary signals in the engine coils.”

Which was right above the shuttlebay.

“A power surge?”

“Possible. I can’t tell from sensor data. And I cannot get an answer from Cortana. She’s got power, but the connection’s down.”

“Fire risk?”


Mari sighed. AI must’ve glitched or something and accidentally zapped herself. The downside of human-level AI’s was that they sometimes made human mistakes. She crossed the cabin to the comm’s station, silencing the alarm on her way. She pulled down the handset.

“Luka, Luka, you awake down there?”

“Yeah Captain,” he answered, taking a few moments “Just had something right royal weird happen down here.”

He sounded just a little bit annoyed. Mari thought she heard a panel slam.


“Coupla our routers just died. Some sort of power surge down the ethernet cables zapped ‘em,”

Mari grimaced. If that AI goofed it up, she was paying for the hardware replacement.

“I could put her into Desmond’s backup switch, but I have to recut the cable and everything. Should have gone to fibre when we had the chance. Old piece ‘a Boskonian junk.” Another panel slam. Something clattered to the ground. “Fuck!. Everything’s shorted out back here. What the hell did she do to my gear, stick a sparkplug to it?”

“It seems like a microwave burst,” Mari answered. “I need you to go forward into the launch bay and make sure she didn’t zap herself by mistake.”

“Yes ma’am,”

In the hanger the Stargazer was still standing motionless as before. There was slight a smell of charred electronics inside, but no smoke in the air. He rapped on the cars windows

“Cortana, is everything all right?” he asked.

“Ahh, good to hear someone...” the AI answered. “ I had a few rough moments, but the worst parts are over.”

“What the hell did you do?”

“Quattro tried to hack me through the QED. I had to break the connection somehow, so I redirected my radio output onto some unshielded cable and destroyed the router,”

Luka looked cross. “Well you destroyed half the switchgear in the next room at the same time, ”

“Oops,” said Cortana. She wasn’t sorry. “I am running some systems diagnostics. I have lost my connection through the QED to Hedwig, and most of my network hardware has been damaged. I hope the QED itself is still okay. The one to Nehallenia appears to have been destroyed.”

“Damn,” said Luka.

Mari was busy on the bridge, working with Desmond to try get some signal out without being detected. A quick burst transmission to Butterscotch to let them know they’d just had a hardware failure, that they hadn’t be blown off the rock by a sneak attack.

The comm panel chirruped.

“Bridge, Luka. It’s a goddamn mess down here. Cortana was nearly hacked by our target, she blew out switches to break the link. I think I can patch everything in through Desmonds switch. Gimme five minutes to see if we can get our link to Hedwig back. Anything else... I dunno.”

“Get about it,” she ordered.

“Butterscotch has acknowledged.” Desmond interrupted her. “We are not aligned with Nehallenia at the moment. The directed transmission should be undetectable at current power levels.”

“Good,” she replied, “Now get Jet to the bridge. She needs to know about this.” A few moments went by.

“She’s on her way.”

They could hear Jet running, heavy metal feet thumping on the deckplates. It stopped for a second, followed by a heavy slam as she hit the top deck. The hatch near came off it’s hinges.

“What happened?”

“Jeez, somebody’s tense” Linda snarked.

“Cortana was nearly hacked,” Desmond explained. “She cut off her connection to Nehallenia before the attacker took full control. There was some collateral damage in our network equipment, but we still have connection to Butterscotch.”

“Chigusho,” Jet growled. “If they hacked Cortana, it won’t be long before they get the QED.” A pause. Jet thought. Jet searched for a justification she could write into a report. Bingo. “Get us in the air, we’re going now. Signal to Butterscotch; Showtime!”

“Butterscotch acknowledges.” Desmond said. “Twenty Five minutes until curtain up.”

“We can’t wait that long.”

“It’ll take at least five minutes to preflight,” Mari said. She could understand at least what had lit that fire under the cyber’s butt.

“Not good enough,” Jet barked at her. “If they’ve got the QED, it won’t take a genius to figure out who fucking put it there.”

And I’ll never forgive myself if Ford gets killed while we’re on this rock twiddling our thumbs and ticking boxes on checklist.

“We’ll go as fast as we can,” Mari said, keeping her voice calm. “Provided it doesn’t endanger this ship or it’s crew. It won’t do them any good if we blow up in mid air.”

For one brief moment, Jet looked ready to kill her. Jet looked ready to rip and tear her way to Nehallenia. Jet closed her eyes, taking a long breath in through her nose. She held it for a few pregnant moments. The whole body seemed to relax, a tension flowing out of her as she exhaled.

“You’re right,”she said, brushing some hair off her face. “You’re right. Just.... be quick.”

“We’ll try.”

The comm panel alarmed once more.

“Signal from Nehallenia.” Desmond reported, gravely. “It’s the emergency code. It is authentic.”

Jet went visibly green. “Fuck!,” She glanced to the speaker, almost wild-eyed with fear, then at Mari “I’ll be in the cargo bay. Get us moving.”

Mari keyed open the intercom. “This is the Captain. Take-off stations. Take-off stations. Now!”

“And this is why you should never be in love with your undercover agents,” Desmond sighed privately. “It always introduces complications.”

Jet had already disappeared below decks.


How dare they! How dare they! How dare they!

Naoko Sato was not in a good mood as she glared at the base map. She was sick with rage. She was shaking. She was panting through gritted teeth. Normally she never acquiesced to some of Quattros more esoteric requests, but in this case, she might make an exception.

Cally Auron had lied to her face. Cally Auron had officially made her enemies list.

There was something to be said for the deep-fat-fryer and homeostasis biomod method of enforcement. Picturing her revenge certainly helped stoke that fire in her belly.

“They’re not in the old habitat section,” the tech said. She was a vampire biomod, grey-skinned, fanged, sparkly and judging by the celery stalk she was munching on, vegetarian. “Of course, werewolves suck.”

“Hey watch it fang-girl,” a voice growled from across the control room.

“Knock it off,” Sato said, keeping her voice even “Just find them. They are heading down to the labs. ”

Illuminated solely by the glow from walls of monitors and consoles, Sato just stared. A few of the gothic-dressed crew kept their heads down. None of them had ever seen her this pissed off.

A small alarm announced itself in the silence that followed. Boop - Boop.

It went unheeded. Nobody dared say anything.

It announced itself again. Boop - Boop.

“We’ve got a ship coming into our sector,” the vampire said, tentatively “Coming in fast.”

“Great Justice?”

“No, It’s...” There was a pause as she checked her readouts. “It reads as one of ours. Type-204. Boskone-Two built. On a landing vector.”

“There’s nothing scheduled,” Sato said, momentarily putting Cally Auron to the back of her mind.

Either this was someone who had a problem with their ship, or someone who had a problem with them. And she couldn’t quite shake the notion that it was too much of a coincidence with that distress signal being broadcast.

“Nothing on my panel,” the vampire answered.

“Nope,” werewolf confirmed. “No type-204s for at least a month,”

“Hail them,” Sato ordered.


Linda was at the comms-station on the Nova’s bridge. Lights were on full. The ship was awake. Everyone was on edge. Days of waiting came down to these few minutes. The turbines where wailing below, warring with speakers playing Astronomy at full volume.

“Nehallenia is hailing us,” she said.

“Let them meet static,” Mari ordered. She sat back into her chair, resting her chin on her steepled hands.

Desmonds hologram was overseeing the whole affair in his tweed suit. “Sensors show their defense grid is still down,”

“Good. Slow us down. Let’s be friends. We’re all one happy bunch of evil Zwilniks.”

The pilot, a sweet strawberry blond by the name of Carrie rotated the thrusters to the reverse position, and pushed the throttles forward. The big fusion engines roared and blazed with brilliant arc-light.


“She’s coming into our perimeter, and slowing,” the vampire reported.

Sato sat down in her own chair, sighing deeply to herself. “Now this is damn peculiar.”

“Transponder details give her name as the Wilhelm Canaris,”

Sato looked to the werewolf. “Forward them to Quattro. See what she makes of them. Raven, keep trying the hail them.”

She had a very bad feeling about this. Cameras zoomed in on the approaching ship, looking somewhat like an airliner that’d been fused with the back end of a yacht. Running lights glowed an ominous red alongside the bright, sparking fusion engines.

The vampire keyed open a channel.“Wilhelm Canaris, Wilhelm Canaris, this is Nehallenia Control. Respond please...”


Cathy was banging on the walls of her prison. It was a desperate, near futile attempt to get free. The door was starting to give way. Just a few millimeters. She was panting, she was whimpering, she was desperate. Even if she was a copy, she just didn’t want to be erased like a defective tape.

The hardware around her began to him. She felt her skin begin to tingle. Energy tickled her air.

“Just a few more commands,” Quattro reassured her. “Then you can feel your mind just go away.”

“No!” Cathy screamed. “I won’t let you. I won’t let you!”

“You can’t stop me,” Quattro replied and smiled. “Just admit it and stop fighting.”

A new window popped up in front of her demanding her attention. She scowled at it for a moment. Her scowled morphed into a smirk... this might be interesting. Quattro got to work.

“It seems you’ll have to wait for a short while more.” Quattro said, sighing.


“We just received a text message, they say their engine coils are overloading their comm system.”

Sato raised an eyebrow. She turned to the werewolf. He glanced at his sensor readouts.

“Their coil emissions are normal.”

The intercom beeped, Quattro as fast as usual.

“Oh, Sato-chan,” she called out, gleefully, “It’s a fake.”

The penny dropped. The Canaris was a Trojan horse.

“Raise station alert! Get the defenses up now!” she snapped out. On the control screen she could see the alert racing outwards to the rest of the asteroid station, systems powering up and switching over. It lasted less than a moment.

Fractions of a second later the control screens exploded with activity, windows opening windows untill the entire screen was filled with useless garbage. Systems bogged down as memory was swallowed up by millions of processes spawning and respawning. Packets exploded across the network, routers and switches failing under the unexpected load. A moment later, each screen turned into a deathly blue.

“Internal and external communications are down!”

“Connection to the remote defense turrets lost!”

“Control systems on local backup, the station’s network is offline!”

Sato glared at the blue screen. There were more rats in the basement than she’d thought. This was bad. This was very bad.

“Get them back! Get them back now!”

It was hard for her to not sound like she was panicking. A part of her mind couldn’t help but notice that she was playing the stereotypical Bond Villain role to a tee. If she stayed, she was going to be captured, or probably killed in an amusingly ironic way.


“Most of their systems just shut down,” Desmond reported. “It looks like Cortana’s virus just kicked in.”

“I thought you said we’d have ten minutes,” said Mari quickly.

“That was just an estimate. We should’ve had ten minutes,” The hologram leaned in over the comm’s panel, making a show of checking systems he’d already checked. “That’s not right.”

He trailed off as he set to work figuring out how his counterfeit codes had been beaten so damned quick. It was an insult.

Mari gritted her teeth. It didn’t matter. In for a penny, in for a pound. It was too late to pull now. “Go to full throttle. Their defense grid isn’t going to be down for much longer. Tell Jet to standby, we’re not going to be landing.”


Quattro knew that Nehallenia was doomed. Great Justice wouldn’t stop with just one ship. This was just the advance guard, the initial raid to disable the stations defenses. The stormtroopers would follow soon after.

She did the math.

She figured that from the moment they landed, she’d have twenty minutes to clean up after herself in the lab. It’d take them twenty minutes to fight down to the lab from the landing bay. Time enough to grab what she could, destroy the evidence and get out.

She turned back to her little pet, “Looks like your friends are coming,”

Cathy pinned herself against the tube wall. Did she hope or did she fear?

Quattro ignored her. This was no time for play. A virus in the computer, an impressive one from such a limited intelligence. Thanks to it, it would take at least a half hour to get the station’s systems back from scratch.

Her own systems were still online. She could use them to bootstrap. First, she brought up the comm’s, adjusting her glasses for best signal. Making herself sound like some control room droid was simple

“All personnel, All personnel. We are under attack. We are evacuating the station. Make your to the hangar bay. Make your way to the hangar bay for evacuation.”

When Great Justice landed, they would open the bay doors first. By the time they sorted out the resulting mess, she’d be long gone.


“All personnel, All personnel. We are under attack. We are evacuating the station. Make your to the hangar bay. Make your way to the hangar bay for evacuation.”

Sato’s blood went dead cold when she heard the announcement.

“Who gave that order?”

Whoever they were, they’d just gotten a lot of people killed. And she’d take the blame for it. Wasn’t that how command responsibility worked?

“I don’t know,” the werewolf answered in a panic “I can’t even get manual. It’s... the whole lot’s fried.”

He looked to Sato for the answer, those yellow wolf-eyes pleading for deliverance.

“Maybe we should evacuate?” Raven suggested, hopefully.

Sato glowered at her. She shrunk back. She was terrified.

“Alright,” Sato sighed, rubbing at her temples. The beginnings of a headache were starting to gnaw at the back of her mind “Stay away from the launch bay and any airlocks. Go back to your apartments. Do not make a fight of it.”

She stayed until they’d gone, fumbling out the doors. Someone’s terminal died with a pop of smoke as a mug of liquid spilled across it. Some would still try run for it

She took one last look at the control room, before she ran for her private hanger herself. Nehallenia was doomed, there was no sense in staying to face the music.


“All personnel, All personnel. We are under attack. We are evacuating the station. Make your to the hangar bay. Make your way to the hangar bay for evacuation.”

Cathy looked up at Ford. “It is Jet,” she said, hopefully. “It is about the right time if they got the signal,”

Ford was focused on the corridor ahead. They had to push their way through a crowd of panicking Goths. Some of them were running, some of them were panicking. Some of them dived into hiding places. Others saw the catgirl and the courier running armed and figured it was a good idea to pick up a gun and join in the fight.

“Yeah sister, we’ll show them that just because we’re Goths, we’re not pushovers,”

Dead goths walking. Compared to what she’d heard of Jet’s abilities, they were. She wasn’t sure whether to hope Jet was exaggerating about her abilities or not. The thought of those gliesbies getting cut in half made her feel queasy. They didn’t deserve that... they were just idiots, not zwilniks.

There wasn’t much, if anything, she could do to stop them.

“I think something may have happened to their computers,” Cathy said with a grin. “All the doors have fail-safed to unlocked.”

Ford kicked an access hatch open. It clanged against the rock wall. This access passageway led on down to to the labs.

Ford swung in, quickly covering the passageway.

“Clear,” she barked.

Cathy followed, covering rearwards.

A minute to Quattro’s lab, maybe less.


Jet felt all her controls slip off her body like a silken negligé. Jet didn’t know how she knew what that felt like, she just decided it was an appropriate metaphor. It was that same private release of tension in her body, just allowing it to fall down around her feet.

Take a deep breath in vacuum, feel liquid freedom spread through her body. The wristcom gave tips that, physically at least, didn’t really apply to Jet anymore. A sliver of duct tape held a compatible mic and earpiece to her left ear.

Blades locked into place on her forearms, the extra mass of the steel reassuringly familiar. The others had their own blades, either clamped to their forearms or strapped to their back in the form of an massive, oversized balisword capable of cutting an unarmoured human being in two from head down in one effortless sweep.

And that wasn’t hyperbole. Jet had seen Lenneth do it.

Jet checked her harness, her webbing, her pistol. Medkit, flashbangs. Everything was secure and stable. The others were busy doing the same thing. The same usual routine.

Jet was fizzing to get out there. Jet had to keep herself calm. This was, from a practical standpoint, no different to any other mission. Add Ford to the mix, and it was completely different.

“Engel one, Gruppe. Comms check,”

Her hardware gave an error. Right. Disabled that. She switched the headset over to vox.

“Engel one, Gruppe. Comms check,”

The other four answered in turn. Lenneth, Tiegel wiith his eye black a permanent feature. Lightweight Jash the sprinter with the demolitions gear and Yukio with her cocky grin and AC-built figure.

The hatches blew, bursting open at once as the electromagnetic locks powered down.

“Jet, Acknowledged.” she finished with herself. “Hart kämpfern,”

“Echten kämpfern!” the others responded.

Call and respond might’ve been a little cheesy, but it lit a fire of fury in the blood.

“Hart kämpfern!” Jet bellowed once more, almost interrogating them.

“Echten kämpfern!”

Jet felt her heart race, a savage grin on her face. She closed her visor, her helmet pressurising with a thump. One last time.

“Hart kämpfern!”

As if she didn’t believe them

“Echten kämpfern!” they roared. It made the speaker crackle, and the watch complain. It gave Jet a vulpine smirk.

It was time.

Jet lit her engines, flaring off into the black.

“Angreifen!,” she bellowed.


Hotaru ‘manned’ the weapons console on the bridge of the Nova. She held herself in her own private world, ignoring the tension around her. Her blue eyes stared, reflecting twin images of the TFT screen.

Authorisation ‘Silence Glaive’. Mode. Ground fire support. Switch to high resolution gun-camera mode. Overlay map. Target select. Laser rangefinder. System calculations. Compensate for relative velocity. Adjust for rotation. Adjust for engine coil magnetic effects. Firing solution input. Lock solution.

There was enough ECM going up to make using any sort of radar guided missile an exercise in futility. The Nova had coilguns; bog standard projectile weapons. The good thing about the coilgun was that, once they’d left the barrel, the bullets would only go in the one direction.

While computers could help, ultimately it was solely down to the skill and experience of the gunner to get them on target. Hotaru prided herself on being able to make the money shot. Hotaru prided herself on being able to fill in the blanks that the computers just couldn’t.

Her displays lit up green as the Nova’s targeting computer finally figured itself out, pulling something resembling a proper solution out of all the variables.

“Firing solution locked,” she said, to no-one in particular. She flicked up a translucent molly guard.

The command came back. “Fire!”

That little green button clicked as she pushed it in. Relays latched. Control circuits energised. Turrets tracked targets. Gun barrels adjusted themselves. The Nova had a pair of turrets, each with a pair of coilguns. Each turret tracked it’s own target.

A heartbeat after Hotaru’d pushed the button, the guns fired their first bursts. Moments later, they fell silent, re-aimed themselves, then fired again. Each burst shook the Nova’s frame, the recoil of the guns acting as thrusters.

Hotaru’d compensated for it. It was something that was hard to computerise. It required intuition. It required experience. It required a pilot who knew what she was doing to keep the ship on course.

Tracers lanced out into space.

The guns stopped, finishing their cycle. Hotaru’s panels flashed red. The capacitor banks were empty. Stupid things always took forever to recharge.

“Firing complete,” she reported.

She sounded almost disappointed.


Quattro wore a shark’s smirk in her lab, playing her own electronic symphony on her holographic keyboard. A wall of ECM kept the incoming ship from launching missiles. They didn’t even seem to be trying to fight back against it.

She adjusted her glasses. They were properly docked with the clips on the side of her skull, providing full wireless access to her own computer systems, then out to what was left of the station’s network. This was her at her strongest, her most powerful, her most undefeatable.

A few keystrokes armed Nehallenia’s missile battery. They were a token effort, enough to discourage a single attacker, but not a full fleet. She might be able to take out the vanguard, but all that’d do was buy her time.

If GJ had any sort of competence, they’d be coming straight to her lab. The elite troops would come in first and hit hardest. Anything following would just be a mop-up.

Quattro cursed as she saw the target appear to discrete, five new contacts appearing under it. Missiles? Working with inhuman speed, she answered back with a hail of chaff and anti-missile countermeasures. She filled the void with shrapnel.

The missiles just dodged around. They weren’t just guided, they weren’t riding radar beams, there was an intelligence in there, anticipating, dodging, re-aiming. AI guided missiles. She smirked to herself, so GJ really did use them. She made a quick estimate of their impact time, before returning fire.

Cathy, still in her prison, could only gape as she saw four green markers move inevitably towards one large red one. The monitor cut out moments later, switching over to a text terminal.

Quattro turned back to her for a second. “I assume your AI friend is on that ship? Don’t worry, you will be joining it soon.”

Cathy did not answer... the Nova was a good ship, and the Stargazer had her own forcefield. Jet and the other Kunstlers were far more agile than anything Quattro had... they would manage to break this insane woman's defenses. They would rescue her... somehow.

She had to hope.


Hotaru’s panel lit up. Her stomach screwed itself into a knot.

“Track four missiles. Inbound. Impact. Thirty seconds.”

“Confirmed.” Desmond said, stonefaced, upper lip properly stiff.

Mari thought quickly. “Corkscrew Port!”

A jerk hit the bridge as the Nova was suddenly thrown into a spiral rotation, inertial dampers overwhelmed. The ships’ structure creaked and groaned with the strain, threatening to tear itself apart. Strain gauges threw up warning lights as they went out of limits. Gunshot bangs rang through the frame as old welds gave way.

Mari was pinned painfully against her hardness, straps crushing into her body as g-forces tried to force her stomach out her mouth. Hotaru held on for dear life to a pair of worn grab-handles mounted to her panel, hair only held down by virtue of Brylcreem.

Desmond stood firm, the projection completely unaffected by the G-force until his projector began to buckle on its mountings.

Anything loose was thrown about the ship. Bedding, toys and books along with a mass of cutlery, food remains, a surprised mouse and some panelling that’d come loose where tossed around like lose change in a running washing machine, rattling and pattering and crashing against each other and the hull.

Linda was pinned against the ceiling of the battery compartment. In the engine room Andy Maion clung on to hand-holds, pressing himself against a sealed electrical panel. In the cargo-bay, the Stargazer lifted against its tie-downs. Cortana wondered about who was flying.

Carrie at the controls grunted and hung on, trusting the old Boskone rustbucket to hold itself together.

“Missiles still tracking. Ten seconds,” Hotaru called out.

“Collision!” Mari barked.

Miranda braced herself with one hand, keying open the ships intercom. “Brace, Brace, Brace!”. Alarms began to chime throughout the ship. Pressure doors locked themselves shut.

“Reverse your turn,” Mari ordered. “Deploy countermeasures!”

Carrie hauled the Nova over, pulling the nose straight up. The forces on her body inverted, driving her down into the chair. Everything that’d taken flight during the dive crashed to the deck. It sounded like a car crash. Hotaru stabbed at a button on her panel.

Covers blew off the belly of the Nova, revealing packed rows of cartridges.They burst, filling the space behind the ship with a cloud of metallic foil, burning flares and radio signal generators. The hope was that it’d be good enough to confuse the missiles tracking systems while the Nova changed course.

Now, there was nothing left to do but hang on and hope that it’d be enough. Count the seconds. Count the heartbeats. Whisper a prayer. Hang on. Just keep hanging on. Glance at the screen. Estimate three seconds to impact. Hold your breath.

Two seconds. The longest two seconds imaginable.

One second. Maybe the last of a lifetime.

The first missile met the cloud of countermeasures. It burst into a hail of razor-sharp confetti. The second, followed suit. The third missile had its motor knocked out by a stray shard of shrapnel. It spiralled off into the black trailing smoke.

The fourth missile streaked straight on through the cloud of expanding debris, zeroing in on the plume blazing out of the Nova’s starboard engine nacelle.

Hotaru didn’t even get the chance to shout out “Leaker!” before it hit.


There were five of them, armed with an assortment of shotguns, stun-guns and handguns. They’d managed to set themselves up something of a barricade in a corridor somewhere between the residential area and the restricted section. It was made up of little more than crates loaded with food, a pair of old bulkhead doors and some bedding. It’d still stop bullets.

Edward inspected his work, brushing his hands together. “Well, nobody’s ain’t getting through that without a fight.”

“Why are we doing this?” Laura wondered, nervously rubbing her hands together. “These people are pro’s.”

“They’ll take us to prison,” Ebony said, babbling fearfully, clutching some old Makarov to her chest as if it was a shield. “I don’t want to go to Azkhaban, there’re real Zwilniks there,”

Himei was still giddy. The Remington she had was her first gun. It was her first real gun. Finger
on the trigger, ready to shoot at the first thing that came around the corner up ahead. Her whole body was just shaking, fear and adrenaline sparking and surging inside her.

Edward crouched down behind the barricade, making a point of keeping the barrel of his shotgun aimed away from the others.“Five of us from cover, I reckon that’ll make something of a defense. We can hold them up, make them cut a deal.”

Cob was quiet. Ebony was right. Going to Azkhaban with real criminals just wasn’t an option. They weren’t criminals, they were just.... well.... they were just idiots. Panicked, desperate idiots. Run to the launchbay, they’d be killed as soon as the doors were blown. Stay on the station, go to prison. Then die in prison or worse. Going to prison was bad. A cold place where no sun shines.

Maybe if they fought back, they might be able to negotiate something. This was their station after all. Cob checked his taser. Yeah... that might work.


Jet was forging her way through through the rain of metal and fire. Shrapnel pattered off her armour as she jinked round a point defense missile that got a little too close for comfort. Jet just cursed and pushed on.

She saw four missiles shoot by, aimed at the Nova. The Nova’s own shots would hit any second now. One, two, three, four all five of them were chasing the projectiles in.

Five sets of explosions blossomed across the surface of the base, blowing holes in it’s structure. Atmosphere burst out, sending gouts of freezing mist into space, carrying twinkling shards of debris. Moments later, the base lights flickered and died. The rain of shrapnel ceased.

“Engel flight. Remember your objectives,” she broadcast.

Four acknowledgements came back, clear and crisp despite the electronic wall being thrown up by the station.

“Proceed to targets,” she ordered.

They broke formation, taking individual paths down towards the base. Jet dove down towards a smoking hole, the point on the surface nearest to Quattros lab.

Jet caught a glimpse of a lemon yellow fencar shooting off away into the dark. She tracked it for a moment. It matched descriptions of Satos fencar. Jet swore privately. Sato was running free.

But fuck her. She wasn’t the main target here, not by a long shot. So long as Quattro wasn’t in that thing with her, the mission was still on.

So long as Quattro didn’t escape.

Jet tried once to hail the Nova, then a second time. There was no response.

Jet tried not to wonder what had happened to them, but couldn’t help but recall those missiles. Even one of them in the wrong place would be enough to turn the Nova into a puffball of expanding debris. Jet looked back, taking a moment to scan for the ship. She didn’t see her. She didn’t see a cloud of debris either. That was a mild relief.

She landed hard on the surface of the asteroid, kicking up a hail of regolith. There were scattered craters around her feet, where a few stray shots had ripped up the rock, leading straight up to a gaping hole in the wall. Beyond, was a corridor filled with debris, lit only by the dim orange glow of battery backed emergency lights.

The cyborg ran inside.


Quattro switched the base defenses over to automatic. She herself didn’t even bother following the missiles once they were outbound, not especially caring whether they actually hit or not. It didn’t matter to her.

So long as it bought her more time. So long as the catgirl didn’t see them successfully evade.

If she was lucky, they’d blown it out of the sky. If not - most likely not - she’d still bought herself another few minutes while it circled around and came back for another pass to make a landing.

She did the maths in her mind. It worked out. Quattro rigged the system to write garbage over the disks first, overwriting files with random data.

Second, she set the encryption software to erase its own keys when the system powered down. What would be left on the disks would be little more than a chaotic smudge of bytes.

A high-powered AI might be able to crack it, eventually. What they’d get when they were done, would be a few minutes worth of output from a real random number source. They’d have wasted all that time with the decryption, to get nothing.

Well not nothing, she reminded herself bitterly, but even the good data that’d been stolen by that pest would be suspect thanks to the garbage she’d fed it.

It was much more satisfying to make them work for their failure, wasn’t it? She spared a half-second to check up on the attacking ship; It’d disappeared from scanners. A trail of debris was clearly evident, streaking below the Nehallenia horizon. Three missiles had reported detonation. Perhaps she’d gotten lucky after all.

Now, she had time to deal with the final piece of evidence standing in the Cat’s Cradle, whimpering.

The thought did occur to her to just shoot the thing, but a dead catgirl wouldn’t hold anyone up. It’d just be a body to be cleared up later. A live blank would have to be dealt with; it would have to be cared for. A live blank wouldn’t obviously be blank for quite some time.

She couldn’t destroy her systems until after she’d finished with the thing, but it’d take her five minutes to wipe it. It’d cost the enemy twice as long trying to deal with it. Spend five minutes she was sure she had now to earn five extra minutes she would need later; it sounded like a bargain.

She turned around for the last time, “Well it’s been fun, but it’s time for you to go.” Her expression morphed into a mockery of glee, “Goodbye!”

Everything was scripted to run in sequence. She just had to hit ‘enter’ and the whole system would erase the catgirl, and then get about destroying itself autonomously while she ran for it.

She never got the chance. With a metallic bang, the laboratory door slammed open, rebounding against the wall. Quattro spun on her heels to face the open door, drawing her stun-gun.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:28 pm

Naoko Sato pulled her car door shut behind her, while simultaneously starting the engine with her other hand. There had been no time to pack. Just run....

Nehallenia was blown. VSW was blown. Her revenge was blown. Quattro would most likely be captured or killed. Her data, her plans would go to Great Justice. They’d develop countermeasures. They’d intensify the hunt for her. Everything had gone to hell again and here she was, running away again with nothing but the contents of a car boot to keep her going. Furby was still in her office. The Furby she’d had since she was young.

The engine stuttered to life. She slammed the fencar into gear. The gearbox started to whine as the magnetic generators came on line and she felt that a momentary wave of dizziness come over her as the car’s gravitational field established itself. The cabin switched over to internal life support with a thunk and a gaseous hiss, while the instruments did their usual disco-dance.

Time to run... again. It was a bitter reminder of how she felt that day when that bitch took everything from her. She made a point to run a search on Cally Auron. Another name on the vengeance list.

The car rose slowly up off the launchpad for a few moments as she tickled the throttle. The bay doors started to open. The atmosphere rushed out, punching them both clear off their hinges.

Fuck this world and everyone in it. They always take what I have.

Riding that thought, Naoko stomped on the gas and shot out into the void.


The final missile’s proximity detonator triggered.

A cloud of high speed shrapnel burst out, scything through the starboard engine pod and heatshield. Metal shards slashed through current carrying coils, instantly melting as Megaamps began to arc through them. Blue electric fire burned at temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun, melting the coils before blowing the conductive metal apart, contorting it into magnetic tangles.

In the engine room, Andy had just enough time to feel the impact before the circuit breakers snapped open with a bang, opening the circuit and blowing out the arc in the breaker with a blast of nitrogen gas.

It was all over inside a quarter of a second, before the force of the blast had even begun to throw the Nova into a spin. White hot gas still spewed out of the smashed engine, leaving a glowing trail of gas and embers.

On the bridge, Hotaru was near thrown from her seat by the force of the impact,saved only by a too slack harness which crunched at her shoulder. She cried out in pain as alarms started to ring out across the bridge, panels switching to a dangerous red.

“The starboard nacelle has sustained a direct impact. We are venting drive plasma,” Desmond announced.

His steady voice was lost amongst the din of alarms and warnings.

“Shut down port! Shut down port!” Mari was yelling.

Carrie had leant right over, hauling all the control yoke, jamming the rudder pedals in as far as they could possibly go. With the starboard engine giving little or no thrust, and the port still running effectively at full throttle, the Nova wanted nothing more than to snap around in a wild spin.

“Got it, got it,” she grunted back through gritted teeth. “I can hold it,”

She reached over and pulled the engine throttle right back to the neutral position. The Nova snapped over, being pushed now by her own maneuvering thrusters.

“Hold it!” Mari barked.

“Don’t fight me. Don’t fight me,” Carrie snapped back at her.

“Starboard thrust, null it, null it out,”

Maneuvering jets machinegunned, shaking the ship’s frame. She bucked and rolled and creaked and groaned, threatening to just burst apart. Desmond was calling out something about attitude control and gimbal lock. Instruments on the pilots panels pegged themselves in the danger zones.

Miranda was trying to focus on the information coming through her earpiece, voices calling out damage and injury reports.

“I’ve got injuries all over the ship!”

The ship lurched once more as a damaged fuel tank burst open, spewing fuel gas like an extra thruster. Hotaru was thrown over, her skull making contact with a handrail. There was a red flash and she was gone, knocked clean unconscious by the cracking blow to her temple. That was all she knew of what happened to her.

Carrie hung on to the yoke. “We’re starting to roll. We’re rolling over right,”

Mari hung on to her panel. “Pitch and Roll! We’re pitching up. I’ll kill pitch, you kill the roll.”

The pair fought with the controls, thrusters firing. In the bay, Cortana’s straps snapped and lashed, denting the hull. The Stargazer slid forward, crashing into the shuttlebay doors, popping two out of the three latches, before sliding back against the internal bulkhead, smashing equipment lockers and permanently severing her own connections to the Nova’s systems. Luka in the computer room hit the server racks, before being pelted with a shower of datapads and paper manuals.

The ship kicked back, welds popping under the damaged wing, panels blowing off the heatshield exposing the wing structure underneath. Debris, superheated engine parts and gas-ice spewed out behind the spacecraft.

Linda was thrown first against the ceiling, then down on top of the batteries’ cover, then back up again. There was a crunch of shattering bone and a scream of agony.

Carrie struggled with the yoke, “I’ve got her. I’ve got her.”

Focus on the HUD. Focus on the gyros. Focus on the instruments and not on what her inner ear was telling her. She could feel herself being flung around like loose change in a washing machine. Tumbling, spiral, bouncing. The stars out the windows were a whirl of light.

Mari was yelling “Fire you pigs,”

A thruster cluster had malfunctioned.

After a full minute of fighting, the ship came back under control, returning to steady flight. After the wildness of the last sixty seconds, it seemed positively strange to be moving steadily forward. Alarms were still sounding off; they began to die away slowly as they pushed buttons to finally acknowledge them.

“Main Bus B undervolt. Main Bus A undervolt. Starboard Three breaker trip. Starboard Four breaker trip,” Carrie read out. “Port engine one hot shutdown. Port engine two hot shutdown. Thruster pack two fuel warning. Starboard fuel low pressure...” she paused. “Might be easier to get a list of things that are still working,”

Mari turned back, “Hotaru, anything still come....” The rest of that sentence just died in her throat when she saw Hotaru slumped in her harness, blood matting the hair on the right side of her head. “Miranda, get the medkit! Fuck!”

She brushed the sweat off her face using the cuff of her uniform, before fumbling with the catch on her belt. “And tell me where the hell we’ve ended up out here. I don’t want to survive the missile hit before flying up shit creek without a thruster.”

“I still have a fix on Nehallenia, the sun and our marker stars.” Desmond announced. “We’ve passed the asteroid,”

Miranda fumbled with her belt straps, stumbling over the deckplates. The medkit was mounted beside an overhead porthole, strapped to the roof. It was enough for basic injuries. Right. Airway, breathing, circulation.... Hotaru seemed to be sitting up right. Airway clear. Breathing very shallow. Pulse was there, but barely.

“Dear sweet Serenity,” she breathed.

Her pupils were fully dilated. Nothing happened when she shone a light in them. Clear fluid trickled out of her ear, mingling with the blood. Thick, red blood pulsing out of the side of her head. Blood was smeared on the handrail where her skull had cracked against it.

“it’s a head injury,” she called back. “Bad one. Oh holy.... oh... It’s ….. “ Her tongue just tied itself into knots. It was obviously lethal, it was obviously going to be lethal very soon. Her skull had buckled in.

“Wave injector.” Mari ordered. “Now! Before she’s too far gone!”


Like all doors on Nehalennia, since the computer system had crashed, the lab door had fail-safed to unlocked. It kept people being trapped by system failures and power outages. Ford readied her gun; chambering a round, then clicking the safety off.

She planned to go in ready to shoot.

Cathy didn’t need to be told to get the door, she had trained. Kick it open, get out of the way. Let Ford shoot first, disable Quattro fast. Whatever happened, Quattro had to go down, and down quickly.

Cathy knew from personal experience just how scary-fast that madgirl could be. She had to be some sort of biomod.

“Be careful,” she whispered.

Fords gaze was firm. “I have an idea.”

Cathy nodded to Ford. ‘Ready?’

Ford looked back and grinned. ‘Of course’.

Neither of them said a word. It was communication at a glance. Ford held her pistol at the ready, Cathy brought her foot round in a broad arc, making contact with the door.

It burst open.


How the hell did they get here so fast?

That thought sparked through Quattros mind in an instant as she whirled around to face the unknown intruder, drawing her stun-gun with her free hand. There’s should’ve been at least ten minutes left before anyone made it down this far.

In a fraction of a second she saw Cally and that catgirl Teela. Stupid Naoko. Well, they didn’t have long to live, did they? Another moment, and her body would’ve caught up with her mind.

Teela spilled in, ducking low and out of Cally's way. Quattro stared right at the courier, staring right back at her with her pistol already aimed, ready to shoot. The copy in the cradle was just beginning to catch up with what was going on. The copy started to scream.

Faster than any human would ever be able to, she brought her stun-gun to bare on Cally.

Callys pistol fired first.

It can’t possible kill me, Quattro thought, taking reassurance in her design specs. It was only a nine-millimetre.


Trapped in her prison, Cathy... copy Cathy... saw it all. She saw the door burst open hard enough to hit the wall with a metallic clang, before spring back to a half-closed position. She saw herself come rushing through the door, Ford chasing behind with pistol drawn.

Cathy screamed, There wasn’t anything else she could do. She wanted to yell out a warning, to let them know that Quattro wasn’t just a madgirl but something far more sinister. She wanted to help. She wanted to break free and go for that smug bitches throat with claws and teeth.

But there she was. There she was, looking right at herself, running through the door. It couldn’t be anything else. It couldn’t be a trick. It couldn’t be anything but reality.

It took Ford a moment to get a bead on Quattro. It took Quattro a moment to draw her stunner, and spin round to face Ford.

She saw the gunshot, a sharp flash following a hard crack. She saw the stunner kick out of that bitches hand.

Cathy.... copy Cathy... started to sob.


It hit her in the hand.

Quattro felt the bullet bite through her fingers before bursting apart on the metal underneath. Reflexively, she snapped her hand back from the shock of it. An instant later, she tried to grasp at the stun gun, tried to pump the trigger.

The gun was falling. She grasped at it, but nothing happened. No touch, no feedback, just a sudden warning that three of her fingers were now missing.

A moment after that, the pain hit.

Quattro yelped, and spun around, shielding herself with her silver cape.


Ford felt a quick moment of elation as she saw the gun spring from Quattro’s hand. Her aunt Irene would be proud. Shooting a gun out of a persons hand was a myth, but shooting a persons hand almost invariably caused them to drop the gun they were holding.

Shooting off three fingers just made certain of it.

Quattro yelped with the pain, grabbing reflexively at her wounded hand.

Ford expected more blood, frankly. Perplexed for a heartbeat, it took her only a moment to notice the metal shining beneath torn skin.

A moment later, her mind caught up. If Quattro was a cyber like Jet... this was going to go bad real quick. Quattro had to go down fast.

Cathy had one advantage over Ford; she’d been in the lab before. It’d been dark, but the place still had a ghoulish familiarity to it. Shapes which had been little more than shadows were clearly visible, and no less incomprehensible. That catgirl, Vivio, was staring at her like she’d seen a ghost, in the middle of having a panic attack.

The door hammered against the wall, Cathy catching it as she slipped past it. The only thought running through her mind was to get out of Ford’s line of fire fast. Keep out of Ford’s line of fire.

Fords shot slapped painfully in her ear, but she forced herself to ignore it. Every moment of wasted time could be deadly. She pushed in. Get into the room.

She saw an opened crate which would make good cover and threw herself behind it. A stun-gun skittered against the wall nearby and she grabbed for it, taking it for herself. She hunkered down, scanning the room.

The catgirl in the tube was screaming at her. Ford shot Quattro again. Gunshots drilled through Cathys eardrums. Quattro seemed to curl up under her cape, sparks splashing off the silver material.

More shooting didn’t seem to useful at the moment. Cathy decided to make a run for the catgirl.

It took Ford only a few moments to realise her shots didn’t have much of an effect. That cape before was far more than just bullet resistant.

“Give it up!” she yelled. It was half a bluff, but it’d be enough. She still had near a full load.

The madgirl sneered at her from beneath her cape, before slowly slipping out. Golden eyes stared straight through her. There was something deeply unsettling about that gaze.

“Hands behind your head.” Ford ordered, “Nice and slow. Clasp them together.”

The madgirl was still staring contemptuously at her. Ford stiffened her stance, keeping her sights lined up at a point just above the bridge of Quattro’s nose. Her finger was tense on the trigger. She was ready to shoot.

Fluids trickled from Quattro’s broken fingers, forming pinkish rivulets snaking down her arm. Bare metal was exposed, beneath an obvious shroud of synthetic flesh. A cyber? An AI?

Quattro’s eyes flickered for a moment, and the madgirl smirked at her.

“You two are all alone here, and I shot your rescue party down. There’s no help coming.”

“Bullshit,” Ford spat back. “That’s why the whole base looks like an anthill that’s been knocked over, right?”

“They’re cowards.” Quattro assured her. “Nothing more. Humans are such weak and pathetic little creatures like ants. No matter how many you kill, more will just keep being born. If you were going to shoot me dead, you would’ve done it by now,”

Ford snarled. “What makes you so sure I won’t?”

“You’re not a murderer, even though you tried to kill me. You’re not one of the five OF-Eight troubleshooters, so you likely don’t have authorisation. In fact, I don’t think you’re even Great Justice... or you would’ve announced yourself. You’re something else....hmmm?”

Ford tried to keep stonefaced.

“If I was to guess, I’d say a bounty hunter. Which means, if you shoot me dead, you’re the one who goes to prison.” Quattro giggled, “Because, as you can see, I’m unarmed, and I don’t have a bounty on my head,”

Ford glared. “Cathy,” she called out. “You’d say it was self-defence, right?”

The catgirl looked back from the tube door with a smirk, “Of course.”

“Well,” said Ford. “That settles that. So, you’re going to stay right where you are, and when I tell you to, you’re going to walk with us. And if you make so much as a twitch in the wrong direction, I will shoot you down like a dog,”

Quattro gave no answer.

A distant rumble of thunder rocked the station. A moment later, the lights flickered once, then went out. Darkness fell, broken only by stray lights coming off the surrounding hardware. It took Ford a moment to realise she couldn’t see a damned thing.

The next thing she was aware of was a brick wall smashing into her cyber arm, before she was thrown hard enough against the wall to knock the wind clean out of her.

Cathy was busy with the door when the lights went out, stabbing at the plastic tape with a knife in the hopes it’d come loose. Vivio inside was banging on the plastic, claws gouging into it. It was a crazed maze of shallow scratches already.

What the hell was this stuff?

When the lights went out, it took her eyes only a moment to adjust. She heard Ford hit the wall with a heavy ‘oof’.

Have to free you later, Vivio. She spun round, readying her PPK. She scanned for Quattro.... a hunched shape loomed out of the gloom towards her. Instinctively, she fired once with a bang and a flash, dodging out of it’s way at the same time..

Something thumped her hard in the side, hard enough to sent a shock of pain run across her ribs, and she stumbled to the side. Panting with the pain, she stepped back.

“You can’t get away,” Quattro teased. “And I don’t have time to play nice!”

Quattro lunged again. Cathy was amazed at how it felt to just side-step and trip her up. Thank god for all this exhausting hours at Venus.

The battery backed emergency lights kicked in a moment later.

Copied Cathy watched the fight. She saw Quattro stumble hard against the wall, before recovering with a vicious snarl. She looked strong enough to rip a person’s arms clean off their body, but there was no control. Just brute, untrained force and speed.

Cathy rolled out of the way of the third attack. The catgirl found herself willing herself to stay ahead of that bitch. She didn’t want to watch herself die.

Ford slowly hauled herself back to her feet, swearing as something fell off her arm. The metal glinted in the light. A few artificial warnings intruded on her mind, letting her know just how bad the damage was. A blow like that to her other arm would’ve broken it.

The fingers of her real hand still clasped tightly around the grip of her pistol.

“I still have the gun!” she yelled.

“I’m going to kill you both,” Quattro promised. “I don’t have time to do this cleanly,”

Quattro lunged at Ford. Ford shot her again. The madgirl stumbled a little, catching the bullet somewhere in her chest. Quattro swung wild with her arm, trying to take the bounty hunter’s head from her shoulders.

Ford had little trouble dodging.

“She’s crap!” Cathy called over. “All strength. No training.”

But still bloody dangerous if she connected with anything.

“I’ll show you!” the madgirl screamed.

She was built by Agatha Clay. She was built to beat the best. Beyond human reaction. Beyond human intelligence. Beyond human strength and speed. She was the best. Better than all of this vermin.

Cathy sprang back out of the way, landing delicately.

Ford shot Quattro again. grazing the back of her leg. It did little more than rip open more of the artificial flesh. Quattro stumbled, before catching herself. It bit like a mite.

“Give up, you cannot win this” Ford yelled.

Quattro ran between both Ford and Cathy. Maybe they’d shoot themselves.

Ford held her fire. No use risking it. Cathy put another round into the madgirls back with the PPK.


Jet ran like hell through the corridors of Nehallennia. She ran faster than any human, flat linear electric actuators powering her along at speeds an athlete might only be able to dream off. Jet ran so hard her feet were cracking the floor, throwing up spalling shards of rock.

Her footsteps made a sound like a rapid-fire hammer beating on solid steel, ringing off the walls

A pair of IR camera’s mounted to her helmet allowed her to see near perfectly, despite the gloom. Cybernetic hardware merged both digital image, Jets natural vision and a computer generated HUD into one image.

Patterns of hot and cold light revealed hidden details behind walls and underneath floor; details which washed through Jets mind, quickly acknowledged and unconsciously filled away.

The information flow through her mind was well beyond what was possible for a human being. It was still nothing compared to a full-speed tunnel run at rush-hour. She was rigged for speed. Reactions designed for Mach one flight and honed dodging trucks and buildings at speed allowed Jet to move faster than any security system could keep up.

The trick to taking right turns fast was to not slow down. That wasted time braking, then getting back up to speed. Instead, Jet launched herself towards the wall at the last second, aiming for what she could see was a strong point in the wall.

Hitting with her foot, she sprang back off it with a flash of her engines and a spray of rubble, shooting forward down the next corridor, barely losing speed. The technique was jokingly referred to as ‘Gran Turismo’.

She met a zwilnik running in a wild panic, lost and crying out for her friends. Unnarmed, no threat. Jet had gone past her before she even realised Jet was there, blades glinting in the red light. A faceless, armoured death tearing passed her riding a wax-and-steel-smelling draft.

The zwilnik fainted when she realised she was unharmed.

A few distant gunshots cackled in the distance, chased by a muffled explosion.

“Engel one, Engel four. Target Gamma secure.” Jash voice crackled in her ear. The metallic rock was playing havok with the comms.

“Four, One, acknowledged,” she barked back.

Jet wasn’t panting. Jet wasn’t even breathing. Life support systems were running on direct injection to meet the demand of her biological parts. Her power cells were pushing out maximum power. Her heart was thundering, trying to keep up with the demands of her biology, trying to keep her hardware from overheating.

Hardware generated estimates put her as less than a minute away from Quattros lab. The exact instantaneous figure was 56.5345 seconds. This was Jet going full bore.

She came to a T-junction. Her route map told her she had to make the turn-off. Ambush, her instincts warned, fractions of a second before she committed. No going around. No slowing down. Every lost second was a second extra for Quattro to escape.

She hugged the wall, in tight to the turn, before springing across to the far side, aiming for a point which would give her a straight shot down the next corridor. She launched herself into the air, engines spooling up on their starter motors.

She saw the barricade, before those behind the barricade saw her. One, two, three four and five, armed with shotguns and light pistols. She picked each one out in a heartbeat. There was no way through them without fighting them, no avoiding the encounter.

They seemed determined to make a fight of it.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:29 pm

“It’s bulletproof” Ford yelled at her.

Cathy swore. Quattro lunged. Ford dodged out of the way. Just a fraction too slow. She yelped as she was cannonballed into the wall, taking the brunt of the impact on her back. She heard her pistol skitter across the floor.

“I’ve got you... I’ve got you!” Quattro squealed, with a savage grin on her face.

Ford brought her knee up to Quattro’s crotch. It was like hitting an anvil. It hurt like a sunovvabitch. The pain in her shoulders reached a peak as Quattro began to pull... raw, brute cybernetic strength.

“Get off!” Cathy screamed, coming it with a flying kick.

The force sent the pair of them tumbling. Cathy landed on her feet. Quattro kicked out. Cathy didn’t even have time to look before the blow caught her in the stomach. Her eyes seemed to bulge as she crumpled over into herself, flying backwards into a Quattro’s computer terminal.

The displays died in a moment. Cathy’s mind just swam as she braced herself, feeling like she was ready to throw up.

Ford was painting as she got to her feet on shaking leg. Her head was still going through loops, trying to convince her she was spinning in circles. Quattro was between both of them. Christ all Friday that madgirl was strong. And she didn’t even seem tired.

Quattro turned to face her, a crack like lightning across the lens of one of her glasses.

How long can we keep this shit up?


They heard the footsteps hammering along the corridor.

“That’s not human,” Laura whispered, shrinking down as far as she could go.

Edward shushed her sharply. He crouched down, leaning his weapon on the top of the barricade. “Whatever comes around that corner,” he said. “We start shooting, and don’t stop until it’s dead.”

Ebony couldn’t help but feel he was being optimistic. She was shaking, she was visibly shaking. Her Makarov seemed to rattle in her grip as she aimed it at the corner.

Himei stood planted and firm and tall, Remington held down by her hip. Someone clearly thought they were an action star, and they were action ready.

Laura held an old Sig with armour piercing rounds. Good quality, it had been a gift some time ago. She never expected to be actually using it.

Cobs taser whined as it’s capacitors charged. A waved model, it could probably shoot lightning bolts enough to knock a man clean out unconscious. It was a not-quite-death ray. It was their best chance.

Ebony saw it coming, ricocheting against the far wall shattering the rock, before launching forward riding a turbine scream. Big, white armoured, faceless, with shining blades mounted to its forearms.

It seemed to be diving through the air towards her. It was halfway down the corridor before she even had time to blink and realise the clatter she’d heard was her Makarov hitting the floor.

“Shoot it, Shoot it now!” Edward bellowed.

It jinked out of his line of fire. Edwards gun boomed. Ebony swore she saw the slug spiral through the space the attacker had occupied an instant before. A beer can was crawling through the air beside her. Ebony was staggered to find she could read the markings on the bottom. It was the cartridge ejected from the gun, hanging still in mid air.

Himei screamed. She was squeezing the trigger, pumping it with her finger. Nothing was happening. Himei never got the chance to realise she’d left the safety on.

Laura’s mind just locked up.

Cob screamed wordlessly as he fired of his taser. Two wires sprang out, lightning crackling and arcing between both bare cables. They skittered uselessly off a wall and missed.

Ebony hit the ground screaming, screwing her eyes tightly shut and hoping in the name of hope that whatever this thing was would just leave her alone.

She felt it pass over with a hot blast, chased by a wet crunch that reminded her of the time her younger brother had stood on her pet tarantula. Go away! Go away! she begged. Something hot and sticky sprayed across her body. She thought she heard Himei scream for a moment, before it was cut clean off. Something heavy and hard landed across her back, followed by something wet and soft and distinctly.... meaty.

Then nothing but her own whimpering, and the same hammering footfalls receding into the distance and the smell of a slaughterhouse lingering in the air.

“Idiots” she whimpered to herself. “Idiots,”

She opened her eyes.

What she saw, would linger in her nightmares for years.


50.2231 seconds.

Blood streamed off Jets blades as she ran. She ricocheted around another corner, dislodging a slab of steel off of the wall. Four down. One left behind, she’d thrown her gun down. No time to stop. No time to demand surrender. Blasting past, leaving them alive would just have given them a chance to shoot her in the back.

She confirmed with herself, it was justified.

Time was everything. Quattro was everything. Ford was everything. This mission was getting within a hairs breath of being a total bust. And where was Ford?

“One, Three,” Lenneth called over the comm, “Target Beta secure. No sign of Vidkun,”

“Three, One. Copy,” Jet responded. “If you can get control back, send our message,”

“One, Three, Wilco.”

Jet kept running.


The injector was an oversized syringe filled with the traditional Green Goo. It was big, burly and almost comedic. It was designed to go right through the breastbone and into the heart. Miranda swallowed a sick lump, her guts still churning.

First, rip open Hotaru’s uniform, exposing her chest. She pressed the auto-injector against her flesh, positioning it right over her heart. Hotaru’s breathing was slow and shallow, she’d be dead within minutes.

Miranda put her full weight into it. Her hands were shaking, her palms slick with sweat. She swore as the syring slipped, popping up into the air. She grabbed at it, and sent it flying. It cracked off the panel before ricocheting back onto the deck.

“Dammit, dammit,”

Her own clumsiness would kill Hotaru far better than any head injury. She groped around the cockpit floor, finding it after what felt like an eternity of fumbling.

“What the hell you doing?” Mari snapped back at her. “Inject her now!”

“I.... I dropped it.” she answered back, stuttering. “I’ve got... I’ve got it now,”

I’ve never done this before, she didn’t say. She pressed the injector against Hotaru’s bare chest. The first button made it clamp down. It made her sick to feel it bite hard into the woman’s flesh. Hotaru’s body didn’t even flinch.

The second button punched the needle through into her body with a thump and a crack. Hotaru juddered, a tremble running through her limbs as the green stuff filled her body. Miranda swore she could see it darkening the veins across her chest already. Think happy thoughts.

“Done!” she announced, looking back towards the Captain.

“Good,” Mari said. “Now, get me a damage report. How bad are we hurt?”

Miranda’s mind was still spinning out of control while she pulled herself back over to the comm’s panel.

Below, in the engine room, both turbines were still spooling down to match the dropped demand. The acrid smell of seared plastics filled the compartment, insulation on some low voltage wiring having charred thanks to an arc somewhere in one of the panels.

Linda was flat on her back on the deck, panting. Her breathing was sharp and hard, a shudder of pain running through her body with each breath. She grimaced, biting down hard. Every breath was stabbing her in the chest.

She still remembered something hitting her like the kick of a cyborg... and then nothing. But she was breathing now. At least the pain meant she was alive. It was a good thought.

“How long?” she managed to get out.

“Dunno,” Andy barked back. “Hotaru’s been hurt on the bridge, she gets priority.”

It would have to be bad to take priority over Linda. The panel beside him crackled and fizzed, one of the wires having been knocked loose.

“How...” it cracked. “Can y... ...ve propulsi..?”

Andy decided not to bother with the thing. He opened the hatch and yelled up to the bridge. “Five minutes.”

“We don’t have that long!” Mari shouted back down to him.

“I don’t know what’s out on that wing. I still have to figure out what breakers tripped and why. If I reclose at full power on a damaged powerline with a fuel leak, we’ll lose the entire wing.”

“Get it back, as soon as you can,”


He growled to himself, and couldn’t help but not that, if this had been a Trekkie ship, they might all have been dead now. Credit where it was due, at least the Boskone knew how to do power system protection.

With a bit of luck, maybe the disturbance recorders survived.


Ford was panting.

She took the blow on her metal arm, getting herself out of the way of the follow up which cracked the wall behind the space where her head had been.

Quattro had no skill. What she had was speed and strength, and inhuman endurance. She had time on her side, while Ford was only going to get tired. Her heart was pounding as she dodged out of the way.

She spun back around, using her cyber leg to return to favour. It send the android tumbling against a stack of equipment. Ford took the chance to make a desperate grab for her pistol on the floor.

Cathy was out of ideas. The damned .38 PPK was next to useless against Quattro. Thinking quickly, she remembered she’d taken the android’s stungun. It would be difficult at best, but she was out of ideas. If they didn’t end this now, Quattro would just wear them down.

Screaming, she launched herself at the madgirl. She aimed right at her face, hoping to jam the stun-gun right into her eyes. Blind the bitch, that was the only thought in her mind.

Quattro turned to face the screaming catgirl. The last possible moment before the prongs of the stunner made contact with her eyes. She started to duck, bringing her arm over in an arc to knock the furball clean out of the air. Bright electricity arced between the prongs, Cathy’s fangs glowing bright in the light.

Quattro actually felt fear. For one brief millisecond, she was actually frightened. Something scratched off her cheek before penetrating her eye. She felt the warnings a moment before she felt the lightning shoot through her body. She screamed.

Cathy was completely committed to the attack, compelled by her own momentum to keep moving forwards. Quattro caught her right in the chest with a crunching blow. She yelped, before crashing into a crate back first.

“My eye!” Quattro screamed. “My eye, you fucking bitch my eye!”

Fluids were leaking down her cheek as he tried to guard the wound with her good hand. She stumbled, her balance all shot to hell. Systems errors announced themselves in her mind, as stray currents had found their way through her body, cooking control chips as they went. But her mother had built her body tough. She’d make them pay... she’d make all of them pay.... little ants would be stepped on.

Cathy tried to reply with a combat quip, but settled instead for just throwing up. Her world was spinning, and her guts were tying themselves in knots. Something was wrong deep inside. It would heal, homeostasis was good that way.

It had been a good hit, it would give Ford a fighting chance. Cathy wasn’t sure how much longer she could go on like this. She staggered a little, and wondered where the stun gun had gone.

Ford finally felt the reassuring weight of her pistol in her hand. Quattro seemed to be stunned. Behind her, Cathy was stumbling on her feet and clutching at her gut. Her own hands were heavy.

“Give it up!” she yelled.

Quattro hissed and turned to face, her damaged eye appearing scorched and metallic behind the incongruously unharmed glasses. Ford slowly began to circle to her right, putting Cathy and Vivio out of the line of fire,

The android tracked her with her good eye. Her teeth were gritted into a vicious, dog-like snarl. There was fury and frustration. Ford had no idea how much effect a nine millimetre luger round would have on Quattro’s head, but hoped to hell that Quattro didn’t either.

“You think that thing will hurt me,” she sneered.

“You care to find out?”

There was stalemate. Ford considered just shooting her, but she really didn’t want to have to go through the bother of explaining herself.

Cathy just stared motionless at the two of them. She did not want to break the stalemate, every second to catch her breath seemed to be precious.

“Are we going to stay here until Great Justice arrives?” Quattro asked.

Ford smirked at her. “As long as it takes to keep you from escaping.”

“Seven more minutes?”

The door burst open. Everyone glanced back at it. Ford half expected an armed squad of Gliesbies coming through. Quattro recognised what it was first, and started moving. Cathy began to yell a warning. Ford’s gun fired with a sharp bang. She felt something heavy hitting her in the gut. Something pinged and fizzed.

Ford landed hard on her butt, her head swimming dizzily around.

“Don’t move. Don’t fuckin’ move!”

Ford thought she recognised the voice. She looked up, to see Jet standing in the doorway, fully geared up, with blood streaked across her armour and dripping from her blades. That oversized handgun of hers was drawn and pointed right at a point just between the madgirl’s eyes. Jet’s helmet glanced down at her, then returned its faceless gaze to the android.

“Reinforcements arrived... game over.” Cathy whispered.

“Now I know what you’re thinking.” Jet said, her voice a hard snarl. “You’re thinking... she’s a cyber, and I’m an android. You know you’re faster than an ordinary human, but you don’t know if you’re faster than me.” she took a breath. “Truth is, I don’t know myself but given that I’m able to lift a car and could easily rip your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question, do you feel lucky?”

Quattro didn’t move. Thoughts raced through her cybernetic brain. The markings on the shoulder made it clear. A Panzerkunstler, a damned Panzerkunstler. She ran a quick calculation. It gave a probability of survival a fraction above zero. A very small fraction.

“But how?” she whined, “I was supposed to have six minutes left.”

The gun barrel was insistent. The bloodied blades backed it up. She wouldn’t have a chance in a fair fight. Quattro had this sudden image of herself screaming and running... but there was nowhere to run to.

“Great Justice, You’re under arrest,” the Kunstler said, sounding calm.

Ford saw Jet’s finger on the trigger. Ready to shoot.

“No!”... she fell back down... “I can’t lose. It’s not possible. I made sure... I planned...I will...”

She stopped, dead. Her eyes were wide.

“I planned are to capture you, dead or alive. I really don’t mind which one you choose.”

For the first time in her life Quattro felt as she wanted to break down and cry. Oh dear sweet God, she would blast right through her.

Ford and Cathy were watching Quattro carefully. Neither of them said a single word.

Quattros shoulders dropped forward and she nodded slowly.

“I give up, do what you have to do.”

The hardsuit didn’t lower its weapon. “Ford,” she said. “You alright?”

Ford found herself gawking at the blood covering Jet. She nodded. “Just a little bruised,”


“I am fine,” said the Catgirl, “just give me a minute.”

The catgirl in the tank was crying softly to itself. It was staring at Jet.

“Jet,” it said. “Could you let me out?”

Jet looked over at her, just one word on her mind. How?

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:30 pm

She still had trouble believing she had survived this insanity. She’d survived without being mind-wiped by that madgirl like an unneeded computer disk. If Ford or... the thought died in her mind.

How insane was it to see yourself walk through a door, to see yourself standing right there and now. She forced herself not to throw up. She wasn’t Cathy anymore. She wasn’t ever Cathy.

She found herself trying not to start crying all over again.

If Ford or Cathy had not received her distress call and decided to come here, she would have been long gone when the Kunstlers arrived. She would’ve an empty shell sitting in a tube, without even the sense to wonder who or what she was.

How often had she awoken in this tube, not knowing what had happening before ? How many times had Quattro overwritten her? How many times had she figured it out and just been wiped all over?

Her throat was still hoarse.

She’d watched the whole fight. Her own.... Cathy’s own trainers on Venus would’ve laughed at Quattro. It was obvious she had no combat training. Watching Quattro wear them down had made her sink to despair. She’d have the chance to watch herself die, scant minutes before she felt herself get erased.

Cathy rescued her from the tube. Cathy held her when she fell out. Cathy reassured her that everything would be okay.

She then told Cathy exactly what had happened to her and Cathy just held her. Quattro screamed, as Jet wrenched her arm while cuffing her. Oops.

The adrenaline rush began to fade. She began to shake. She began to feel tired, so went to sleep in her familiar bed on the Stargazer. She began to wonder, she began to hope that when she woke up, it’d be all just a nightmare.


Jet and Ford were in the bar.... what had been the bar... helping themselves. Nehallenia was a hive of activity again, groups of the local Senshi being marched to transport aircraft, while others were being dealt with locally.

It was a mess dealing with them all, but Jet was thankful it wasn’t her mess. Such was the benefit of command delegation. Some called it a fluid command style that encouraged personal initiative and allowed people who actually knew their jobs to take care of things. Jet personally would put it down to her own desire to avoid doing the work herself.

It meant keeping one eye on the information flowing to make sure things were going as planned. Keeping the big picture clear was hard enough even with software assistance. Two C-130’s worth of prisoners were already gone. Nova was in the landing bay being loaded and repaired. Quattro had been taken care of. Cathy was taking care of Vivio personally, for obvious reasons.

Sato was gone. There were just a few isolated pockets of resistance, most of which gave up after a few moments introduction to real combat. Any casualties had been removed. All was well. She got sick of using the damned wristcom after about ten minutes, and decided it was worth the risk to switch back to her internal systems. It was worth it for the sheer convenience.

Operation successful. Hardware secured and on its way to Mars, then on from there for analysis. There was a request from Cathy to be dealt with; Jet saw to that with a few moment’s thought and a quick message.

Ford was busy fiddling with her damaged arm, and trying her damnedest not to pay attention to the blood on Jets body. Take a shower god damn it, it’s disturbing.

“I still don’t believe it,” she said, taking a sip from the same bottle of generic yellow carbonated alcoholic beverage she’d been nursing for the last hour. “A copy. Not a perfect one, but enough to believe she really was Cathy.”

Jet looked at her, then looked at her own reflection, distorted in the bubbling surface of her own drink. Iridescent traces of wavium swirled and chased each other around solar systems formed from bubble stars and planets. It was her daily dose, and while cooling off with Ford was as good a time as any.

“This is.... frightening stuff,” Ford continued.

“Yup,” said Jet. “Depends on what the analysis turns up, if it’s just a one-shot wave effect, or if it’s something reproducible. If it’s something that can be reproduced....”

Jet didn’t finish. Jet wasn’t quite sure how to finish. They knew about the Catgirl blanking process, but that was small potatoes compared to this. Mucking around with memories was GiTS stuff, but a totally independent copy capable of being placed in a totally separate body was getting into true Transhuman Space territory.

It occurred to her that if it had come from singinst it might even have been lauded as a true breakthrough. But it didn’t... it came from a Boskone madgirl’s lab, and the only thing Jet could think about was how dangerous it had been in the wrong hands.

“You want to destroy it all?”

“I honestly don’t know yet,” Thermiting it all and throwing the remains into the sun sure wouldn’t stop someone else from inventing it again sometime in the future. And it wasn’t a decision she had a right to make on her own. “It’s on a secure flight to Mars anyway. With Quattro secure on the Nova and going to meet her grandparents, that’s the safest place for it all for the time being.”

“My truck loaded up yet?”

Jet checkered her planner.

“Yea. Upper cargo deck,”

With half the Gruppe going with Quattro’s lab, there was plenty of space left.

“Great, I can get it fixed on the way.”

Another silence followed. Jet finished her drink in one go feeling a light tingle tickle through her body. She relaxed just a little bit. With a deliberately gentleness, she raised her right arm, brushing her fingers against Ford’s cheek.

“I’m glad you’re alright,” she said, wearing a soft smile. “I was really worried,”

Ford smiled at her. “I can look after myself, y’know?”

“I know. But...” And Jet was stuck. Sensing her trouble, someone fired a message at her demanding her presence elsewhere on the asteroid. The main servers were taken out of the control centre. Nehallenia was being picked apart for evidence. “Sorry, duty calls,”

As usual.


Cathy was looking out of the window of the transport ship Great Justice had sent with Taskforce Butterscotch, taking the chance to relax for the first time after Ford and her fight with Quattro.

It had been a close-run thing, much too close to be comfortable with it. A little bit worse timing here, a little bit less luck there and they might have been all killed, long before help would have arrived. Or maybe even worse.

What Quattro had done during the fight, what she had done before to her own catgirl, what she could have done to all of them with a little bit more time was more horrible than Cathy wanted to think about at the moment.

But the mission had ended well. It hadn’t been a perfect result, but it was good enough. They had accomplished all primary mission goals, it wasn’t that important that Sato had escaped before Butterscotch had blocked off traffic from Nehallenia.

“Someone will get her at a later time. She is not really a Boskonian, she will make mistakes” she whispered to herself, gently stroking Vivio’s neck at the same time.

The other catgirl was sleeping with her head on Cathys lap, her tail still twitching back and forth. It had taking Cathy many hours to calm down Vivio enough to learn what had happened while the forces of Butterscoth and the Panzerkuenstlers had secured the asteroid base and arrested all inhabitants.

The thought about learning that you were not the person you believed you were was disturbing. Whatever Vivios personality had been before their mission to Nehallenia, it was gone. Replaced with something Cathy had believed to be unique in Fenspace and on Earth. Quattro had ripped down the protective wall around this assumption.

But now the Madgirl was gone, she had left Nehalennia in the Nova. She would not hurt anyone for a long time, others would make sure of this. Her lab had been disassembled to look at everything later, but Cathy had already filed a request that if the copy of her was still inside the computer, it would be erased permanently.

But if this technology was possible, there was no guarantee that someone else would not reinvent it. Maybe Agatha Clay even had a copy of Quattros tech, or at least some blueprints how it worked. They could not just destroy it and bury the mission report under lots of paper, they needed to prepare for the next time.

If it was possible to attack an organic brain like this, there had to be ways to detect it... ways to defend against it. It was too horrible to believe there wasn’t one. There was a lot of work to do, and they had to begin with it quickly. Maybe she could ask the Panzerkuenstlers how they detected the memory manipulation to check if the procedure could work on an uncybered brain too.

Vivio awoke, still shivering. She slowly sat up. Cathy put her arm around her and drew Vivio towards her.

“Its all right, she is not here anymore... she will be locked up for a long time, she cannot hurt you anymore” she whispered. Knowing how another person thought and what that person liked or not liked had advantages.

Vivio sighed and nodded slowly. “It was just another nightmare. I will be okay in a few days.” He leaned against Cathy and shivered again. “I dreamed I just woke up in Quattros tube... again.”

“I will stay here, so you don’t wake up alone... and I think you got a bit of sleep this time, you really need it.” She wasn’t surprised at all that Vivio found it hard to sleep after her time with the Madgirl. “We will leave the station in a few hours, and I don’t think anyone of us will ever need to get back here.”

“But what will happen afterwards? The only place I remember is somehow... already occupied? Its not much better for the other catgirls, most of them remember a few months of their live, not much more.

“We will think about something, I promise.” Cathy answered, unsure what to do. “But I am sure we will find a way to solve this problem.”

“And even with Quattro gone, who says the other evil Boskones don’t have access to the technology too? Or can reinvent it?” Vivio continued silently.

Cathy took a deep breath, that was an idea far beyond in the realm of nightmares.

“We have to make sure that we learn how to defend against this technology. The cybers were somehow able to detect it with their implants, maybe we can do this too for an organic brain.”

Cathy nodded, a defense or just a detector for a manipulated mind would be a huge step forward to defuse this kind of attacks.

“I have already asked Jet if I could join the Cyber Federations team to look deeper into this technology. She said she would forward the request.” she replied.

Vivio smiled for a short moment, then she closed her eyes and sighed. “You are right, we will find the right thing to do, both of us. This isn’t over until there are still Boskones left capturing innocent people and sell them as biomodded slaves. We will find a way to make their life miserable.”

Cathy chuckled, then she got serious again. “Yes, that sounds good. We should talk with Cortana about it, she is down in one of the Hangars.”

Vivio was uncertain about this. “I am not sure I want to go to her right now. I know... I know her, but she will not recognize me, because I am not you.”

Cathy sighed, but did not want to press the argument. Both of them still stared out of the window when the transporter left Nehallenia and began to move to Mars.


Quattro looked like a caged rat. She had that look in her eyes, a vicious trapped hatred ready to jump up and bite whatever hand came through the cage door. Her cloak had been removed, her glasses taken away. The two transmitters on the side of her head had been disabled. One of her arms had been broke - by accident. And she was strapped to a steel framed chair by several meters of waved duct-tape.

Jet was staring down at her, quite satisfied that she didn’t have a chance in hell of getting free.

“Alright,” she said, trying to put on a lazy front. “Let me tell you where we are. We’re in the forward shuttlebay of the Destiny Nova. That hatch behind you,” Jet pointed to it,” has been damaged. Two of the three locks are broken. So if we catch you messing around, all it takes is a button push to send you into the void of space where you will remain for a very long time.”

“Fine,” Quattro snarled, glaring hard at Jet. Her expression began mutate into a smirk that suggested she was quite content with the situation. She was working on something.

“Now what’s going to happen is, we’re taking you to meet your grandparents. You're probably going to be dismantled and analysed, and most likely reset.” Jet didn't actually know what was going to happen “But, it’ll save everyone a bit of bother if you tell me everything you know about Virtual Slaver Wasp and Agatha Clay before we get there,”

She sneered. “You expect me to talk?”

“Really, I don’t give a bollox.” Jet responded, following the prepared script. Render Quattro worthless. “We can get it all from the computers if you don’t. But thanks to the damage you did to our engines, it’ll take us thirty hours to get to our final destination..” Jet took a long deep breath. “So that’s just over a day for you to think about what’s going to happen to you when we get there. Or a day for us to have a nice little chat.”

The plan was to leave her to sit and stew for a while on that. Let Quattro’s own mind be her own worst enemy, let her soften like meat in the pot.

“Hah... bitch. You only won because of that idiot Senshi being too trusting. If it’d been up to me, your girlfriend and her pet would’ve been dead long ago.” She smiled at the thought. “Or maybe I would just have been gone with two new pets to test.”

Jet expression changed into a vicious snarl, her hands clenching together with a sharp clack. She drew in a deep breath, feeling a furious shiver run through her body. Bite back.

“Oh I see... you hate me, don’t you? I can see it in your eyes. It’s buried deep and burned in.... and you hate hating me!” She laughed hard, mocking. “And you hate me because you hate hating me, that’s so hilarious. I...”

Jet grabbed her by the throat, cutting that off with a vice grip. Roaring with fury, she picked the android and chair up single handed. Quattro twitched, beginning to struggle. Jet threw her to the deck, buckling the chair under her body. The whole deck seemed to shake with the force of an impact easily strong enough to kill a human being. The android cried as her broken arm was crushed into a volcanic ball of what passed for agony. She felt something hot press against her throat and something else pin her good arm. Opening her good eye, she saw Jet looming over her, face contorted into a horrible sneer, ready to cut her head clean off. The marbled steel of a blade was drawn across her throat, a hair away from her skin.

For just a moment, Quattro thought that maybe it’d worked just a little too well. The weakness had been there, she poked at it... and it blew up in her face.

“Now,” Jet began with a rough edge to her voice that suggested she was trying very hard not to just scream it in her face. “I might have a reputation for being a decent human being and for bringing people in alive, but didn’t your ma ever warn you to beware the nice ones?” she took a ragged breath, adjusting her grip a little.

“You fucked with the brains of my trainees. You screwed with their very selves. You raped...and it was a rape... a catgirls mind and put her through some of the most god-awful torture I’ve seen. You tried to kill my partner and Cathy. You would’ve murdered a family. You would’ve ruined us all and our reputations and made us take the fall for your insidious chicken shite.”

Jet stopped. She was staring. Quattro swallowed... an automatic imitation of a human reflex. That blade would go right through synthetic flesh. It’d go right through her head.

“I know you’re trying to goad me into killing you, or breaking that chair, or ruining my own reputation; I’m not a moron. But I’m this close to finding the most god-awful way I can think of to do it. Because I’ve seen what you shitehawks did at Jusenkyou to those kids from Hogwarts. I had good friends I trained with die, and I killed so many of you and I know what you fuckers made me along the way.”

Quattro tried to move. Jet gripped even tighter, staring right through her at the deckplates beneath.

“So don’t fuck with me, or I will fucking bury you!”

It seemed to ring off the metal walls, hanging for a few seconds. Jet was visibly shaking, her face twitching and red with rage. Her breathing was fast and shallow, hissing through her nostrils.

She held herself steady for long moments, Quattro staring up at her through her one good eye. Jet’s thought process had hung completely. Quattro was stunned into silence. Calmly, Jet began to haul herself back up to her feet, ceramics scraping against metal, leaving the android lying on her back still strapped to a buckled chair.

Jet slowly began to walk towards the hatch, seeming just that little bit dazed as if she was coming up for air after a long dive. She pulled open the hatch door, stopping at the threshold before glancing back over her shoulder.

“I’m not the one taped up in a shuttlebay. And neither is that ‘idiot senshi’..Just remember, strong ruling the weak is all fine and dandy until you find someone stronger than you. I’ll leave you with that for a bit.”

The hatch clanged shut behind her, leaving Quattro lying on the deck, forced to choose between staring at the buzzing overhead lights, or staring at the buckled walls which had obviously been hastily stripped of equipment.

She was.....weak.


Jet stopped outside the hatchway, She closed her eyes, taking one long deep breath. Her blood was boiling in her veins. Inside the armour, she was shaking, physically shaking. Quattro deserved to die. Every single cell of her body knew it. There was a nice red button on the bulkhead that begged to be pushed. It’d send the contents of the shuttlebay hurtling into empty space. In my judgment as a troubleshooter, Quattro was too dangerous to be allowed to live. Quattro made an attempt at escape and triggered the door latch. The hatch had been damaged by the Stargazer hitting it, it was just an accident. There were a hundred potential rationalisations, or explanations; little white lies that soothed and promised nobody would know the truth.

But, Jet thought, that isn’t me.

It doesn’t fit the Jet Jaguar brand. It didn’t fit the image she was so careful to cultivate both to herself and the world at large as a decent, and safe, person. It was the antithesis of everything she wanted to be to be crouched over someone with a blade to their throat threatening to murder them and meaning it.

Even if they deserved it.

Jet was honourable. Jet was a martial artist with a warrior’s pride. Jet wasn’t an indiscriminate murderer. Jet killed four of the local Dark Senshi on Nehallenia solely because not-killing them would’ve taken too long. She was drenched in blood, and nobody really knew it. Trapped in a solid tank being pumped full of thick, iron blood, slicking up around her body, crawling up her neck promising an inevitable guttering, chocking death if she didn't kick and scream and tear at her bindings and curse and swear and beg for forgiveness from all the God's she could think of pleading with them to get her the fuck out RIGHT NOW!

Recurring nightmares were a bitch.

She banished that memory with slow, deliberately controlled breathing, letting a sympathetic rush of panic slowly wind down. Jet stood there, steadily allowing the worst of that hot anger to radiate out of her body. The rest could just be squelched down underfoot. Another deep breath.

“Something up?”

She opened her eyes to see Luka looking at her with concern, the guts of a network switch spilled out on the console in front of him. Jet knew with every fiber in her body that he had to have heard what happened in there.

“Nothing,” Jet said.

She quickly marched out of there, near slamming the hatch behind her, climbing up into the living quarters. There was still a sticky mess on the floor which had flowed out from under a cabin door. It clung to feet like road-tar on a hot day. Inside, a child was complaining about her clothes not fitting anymore while someone tried to reassure her that she was growing up again. Hotaru Minaguchi’s life had changed forever, that much was certain. Joker-Ace, a textbook positive Joker-Ace.

Lenneth was getting something to eat. Neither of them said anything to each other. There was a good chance Lenneth, or anyone who’d been forward in the galley, had also overheard what happened. Jet headed aft through the engine room with her head down.

Only one of the turbines was running, just above idle to provide hotel power. The music was kept to a soothing volume. With the acceleration burn finished, they were coasting for the rest of the journey. Linda was bandaged up and reading that book Miranda had been reading earlier; Heart of Darkness. She grunted in pain as she moved.

The worst part was, what Quattro’d said was true. Jet hated Zwilniks. And, Jet figured, decent people didn’t hate like that. That was why it had to be kept private. Not even Ford could know.

Ford was in the rear cargobay. she had her truck parked up on the upper deck, and had removed some of the plates to give her access. It was a decent enough replacement for a proper lift, and made getting parts out a hundred times easier.

“Hey, Jet,” she said, calmly. “What happened?”

Jet stopped dead for a moment. “Nothing,” she said, avoiding eye contact.

Ford stopped working, “What happened?” she repeated, a little more firmly.

“Nothing,” Jet repeated, her voice taking on a hard edge that demanded Ford drop it. She forced a smile and feigned a yawn “I’m just feeling a little bit tired... It’s been days since I slept.”

“I’m kinda working here right now,”

“I just have to stow some gear on the upper deck,”

Jet boosted up with a kick from her engines, landing gently on the deck above. Her own locker was towards the forward end of the bay, around the other side of the parked truck. It was a tight enough squeeze. Each of the Gruppe had their own personal locker aboard, along with the powerpoints and system connections needed to actually get to sleep and/or charge batteries.

Her power was low, but not critical. Her cells were good for three days straight flight, two days hard combat, or over a week sitting on her metal arse going stir crazy trapped in a little tin box of a ship. She shuddered a bit, a rumble through her whole feeling body like the vibrations a distant train going past. Just having something to eat would maintain things enough to keep her awake. Jet didn't dare sleep with Quattro aboard.

“We going to staying at the Forge for any sort of time?”

“No,” Jet shook her head. “Just long enough to drop our passenger off into AC's tender loving care and refuel. We’ve got another mission we need to start prep for,”

Truth. Jet swallowed a yawn, leaning down against an upright for a moment. The overhead lights buzzed in her ears like a swarm of flies caught behind a window. A little tired. Noah Scott was a little wealthy. The adrenaline had gone. The tension had gone. Decking Quattro had seemed to have swallowed the last of her energy. The only thing keeping her awake was the hardware propping the organics up. Batteries at low. Get something carbohydratey... a good source of chemical energy. That was the advantage of a having good organic fraction. Muscles didn’t run out of electric power and she didn’t waste her power cells just walking around. The only electrical draw right now was the computer hardware, which was barely running above idle. She could go for another two days or so like this before things started getting critical.

“My arm’s a bit trashed, so I’ll probably have catch up then,” said Ford.


Silence fell. Ford had stopped work. Jet could feel herself being watched. It bred a creeping paranoia deep in the pit of her stomach fuelled by the absolute certainty that Ford had to have heard what Jet did. Ford had to know. Jet may not have had real skin, but she still felt goosebumps prickle across the tops of her arms and along her back.

Jet felt ready to throw up. She tried to keep her mind off it, undoing the clamps locking her blades to her forearms. Her reflection in the marbled metal looked tired, eyes sunken into dark hollows in her face.

The marbling came from the impurities in the steel. It was the impurities which gave it it’s real strength. It was a reminder that it was all her little human flaws which gave her her true strength and power.

And which were threatening to destroy her.

She wiped the blade down with a special cloth, removing every last spec of dirt she could manage, before dabbing it down with a protective oil. Finally, it was wrapped up in it’s cloth and placed carefully in a felt-padded recess in wooden box. The second blade received the exact same careful treatment. They were super strong, waved metal, with a glassteel edge capable of going edge to edge with anything and cutting right through. Jet once cut a .50 calibre bullet clean in half in mid air using one. The part of the story she never told was that it’d been a one-in-a-million accident.

Their big quirk was that if the steel ever tarnished all their strength was lost, and it was the devil to regrind and polish them. It was supposed to be a reminder to Jet to keep practicing and honing her skills. It was a wonderful reminder of how difficult it’d be to rebuild her reputation.

It was gone if someone found out. It was gone even if she told someone. The last thing Jet wanted was to spend her life with people whispering behind her back that she was somehow dangerous. Like a verdant green volcano cascading with ancient forestry that seemed like a nice docile and inviting hike right up until the moment the pressure got too high inside and it blew it's top in the most violent manner imaginable.

It wasn't worth focusing on right now.

“Vielen dank für ihren schutz,” Jet breathed as she closed the lid on the box with an almost maternal gentleness. It locked with a click and she slid it back under its cover. Her pistol was safety-locked before being secured. There was a big Barret rifle that was never used beside it, to which Jet had added Dai-Gurren markings for shits and giggles.

And that was that. Jet locked it all away.

“What’s going to happen to her,” Ford asked, mildly.

Her voice seemed to come like a bolt of lightning from the quiet of the cargobay.



“Right.” Jet was tired. “Fucked if I care,” she shrugged. “But if she’s built by Agatha Clay, she’ll have to be analysed and tested. And repaired,” Jet added that as an afterthought.

“What do you want to happen to her?” Ford asked, carefully.

I’m afraid Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. Jet smiled darkly on that thought, turning back to face her partner. “I don’t know,” she said. “Why’re you so worried about her?”

“Uh......” Ford looked away for a moment. “That wasn’t what I meant.” She laughed lightly. “I was just surprised to see you quoting Dirty Harry. I should’ve known better. Nobody says anything that cheesy and means it.”

Jet thought back to the lab, trying to remember what exactly she’d said in the lab. It hadn’t been that long ago. The only thing she could remember was seeing Ford hitting the ground. “I did?”

Ford’s expression flattened. “Yeah...”

Jet glanced back at her, looking as puzzled as she felt. A rubber glove of feeling brushed against Jet’s body, leaving her with the uneasy realisation that she might have just missed something important, and didn’t know what. It was a feeling that crawled across her body like a thousand Penderecki cockroaches.

“I've been burning the midnight oil these last couple of days is all. I guess I didn't think it through,” She forced this big self-effacing smile that would've made any politician feel ashamed. It was shallow and plastic and so clearly at odds with what was going on underneath. “I'll get some sleep when she's off the ship, I promise”

Ford heaved a frustrated sigh. “Sure. I guess I'll drive back with my truck. Make sure the garage's allright and I'll see you in a couple of days.”


Split the bullet in half again, Jet thought. She failed to hide an obvious sigh of relief, before allowing silence to close back in like a comforting blanket. As far as Jet was concerned, she'd just dodged the bullet once again. Safe and sound. The living-room elephant could stay in hiding. The can of worms would stay sealed.

Jets mind was clearing up. Those angry stormclouds where giving way to a grey cold haze. Maybe the sun would come out soon. She finished stowing her gear, before taking a few moments to decide that it might be a good idea to catch up with her meditation. Her last cycle had been interrupted.

Which explained why she went off on Quattro like that. That was a perfect fit. Tired, stressed, interrupted meditation, of course I'm going to lose my temper. She almost smiled at her own cleverness for realising it.

There was something assuaging about having an excuse. It was Not Her Fault. She could blame circumstances Beyond Her Control. It was liberating.

Jet left, using her wireless systems to make sure Quattro was still properly guarded. Passing through the engine room, she set R'n'R for those who'd reached their two-week limit, checked training schedules, and made a specific point to request details on how Jana was doing.

Lenneth was still eating in the galley as Jet made her way passed to the airlock.

“Just going outside, might be some time,” she said.

Naturally, nobody batted an eyelid. It was Jet's known personality quirk.

The hatch locked shut behind her and vacuum embraced her like an old friend. She felt her whole body fizzle inside as pressures equalised and Jet passed out of the human realm. The hatch light went red, and she opened it, stepping out into the black abyss beyond, taking hold of some handrails intended for maintenance. Naked infinity tickled the naked skin of her face.

Repairs on the damaged engine were going ahead, a pair of Senshi in spacesuits cutting out the mangled coil remains with a gas-axe. One of the advantages of flying a 'coaster', fixing things in space was much easier without a drive field. She hauled herself up onto the roof of the ship.

Barrelling through space at a fair slice of C, everything felt still and calm. She was Out There again, She could feel her whole body relax as she allowed herself to lay on her back along the top of the hull. The ship's own internal grav-field kept her down. Jet considered hooking into the nearest interwave station and going to her metaverse server, but the speed and bandwidth would be just plain crap out this far. It'd be like sucking a keg of beer through a straw.

On her vision, she picked out the Forge, then Mars, then Atalante. Little spots in the distance. She could be at any of them inside an hour, if she was bothered. Sitting upright once more, blowing out a sigh as a silent puff of vapour and crystal ice, she sent a message asking not to be disturbed for an hour or so, before cutting her comm's and closing her eyes.

A few minutes later, she was already deep within herself.

Senshi Candidate
Posts: 22

Re: [Fenspace] Shadowrunning Part 2 : Cat's Cradle.

Postby Dartz » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:31 pm

Roland checked his account balance one last time and smiled. That was it. That was the end of his life of crime. And now to end his life of mundanity.

He finished typing his credentials on the order form. His own Blackbird. His own shot at being the space hero. His own chance to fly away. It’d have a few minor customisations. Most of the weaponry was removed, in exchange for more living space and he selected the improved comm’s, enhanced engines and personal collection options. He felt a giddy thrill of elation as he clicked send. Another month, and he’d be soaring through the belt and beyond.

While waiting for the order confirmation to come back, he set about cleaning house. He destroyed the records of his criminal life, wiping the disk with random data. Then, he set about actual cleaning.

His one little dip in the dark side was over. And nobody knew. Nobody would ever know. Good.

He sat himself down at his desk once more, clicking refresh on his mailbox. He leapt on the automated reply coming from back from Roughrider orders, clicking it open with glee.

“Dear Customer

We regret to inform you that we will not be proceeding with your order. Blackbird series spacecraft are sold only to reputable individuals.

Atalante Sales“



Jet Jaguar stood on the roof of the Llana building, watching Roland through the surveillance equipment still installed. She smirked as she watched him spring back from his desk. She’d read the message before he had.

“Looks like he knows,” she radioed. “And this new comm’s a blast,”

Better reception, better range, integrated RFID reader, more features and support for synthetic vox. Best of all, it just felt clean and fresh, a renewal inside the body. Low-cost maintenance and access to the latest equipment was a Good Thing about being a troubleshooter.

“Copy,” Ford’s voice answered. She chased it with a yawn. “Still waiting for the bounty to come through,”

“Shouldn’t be more than a few minutes,”

Jet took a long, deep breath, centering her mind. It was time for a quick spot of revenge. Nothing harmful, just a little bit of fun at Roland’s expense. Just letting him know how wrong what he did was, and making sure he felt it. The patrol weren’t likely to do much.... Jet guessed he would get Convention service on the dirty end of one of the terraforming projects and the proceeds of crime provisions. Roland was unlikely to see the inside of a jail cell. More’s the pity, but she had to admit, he was no Quattro.

In a way, he was worse. The petty criminal who figured that he’d just commit the one petty crime.... She felt a bitter rush of anger that made her feel a little frustrated that the blades locked onto her arms were only training versions. But it would’ve be disrespectful to her real blades to use them for a stunt like this.

“So,” Ford continued the previous conversation “Male or Female?”

“Honestly?” Jet responded. “Both,”

“Hey... no copouts. It’s one or the other. Gun to your head, you have to choose a puppet body to represent ‘you’, which do you chose? Embarrassed to call yourself a female ?” Ford teased.

“No!” Jet snapped back. “Not exactly. We’ve gone ove...”

She stopped dead as a new message slipped into her inbox. An automated script scanned the contents and brought it immediately to Jet’s attention. It flashed up into her mind, overlayed onto her built in HUD.

“What?” Ford asked.

“Bounty on Roland just got posted,” Jet answered, flatly.

“You’re not getting away that easy. We’ll continue this later.”

Jet just sighed. Well, it did give her an idea of what to say to him. This was just a little fun, nothing wrong with saying something badass for shits and giggles. Let some of the pressure off.

“Crap,” Ford said, quietly “Did you see how cheap this shit is?”

“Yup,” said Jet. “Well, he is just small-time as far as the patrol are concerned,”

“Yeah,” Ford gave a frustrated sigh. “But for all the work we did, I was hoping for enough for at least a week in a luxury suite in a Sydney hotel.” A pause “Or to get a new truck,”

“Just have to make do with a week in....” Jet pondered for a moment. Where hadn’t she been? “...Crystal Tokyo,”

“We’ll figure it out when I’ve got the money in my account this time, I don’t think I can take the disappointment again.” She drawled out the last part. It dripped in sarcasm.

“Right so. Well, no time like the present I suppose,”

Jet switched her attention back to the view of Roland’s apartment for a moment. He was panicking now, grabbing at clothes and stuffing them into his suitcase. The laser voice link was filled with cursing. Roland was smart enough to act quick, to know to run as soon as possible. A quick check let her know that the local PD were already on their way.

She pushed it to one side before calling up some apropos music from her onboard collection; a bit of Kanno seemed appropriate for this sort of stunt. There were better ways into his apartment, but none were quite as fun as this. Try inject fun into the job.

Jet stepped up to the ledge of the roof. The metal buckled just a little.

“Roger,” Ford responded. “I’ll send him the message, then get to the rendezvous point,”

That was part two of the plan. Jet would beat the grass, Ford would catch a willing, and very scared, snake. Jet’d taken pointers. She locked her helmet visor down. A cool breeze blew across the tower, angling in towards the building walls. That’d make this just a little bit tricky.

“Message sent,”

Jet checked the feed. Roland was hunched over the computer. He glanced out the window, then back to his suitcase.... jettisoned half of what he’d packed, then filled it with other things.

“And received,” Jet said with an amused snort. “He’s taking the bait. Time to reel him in.”

Jet stepped off the ledge, pitching herself forward through free space. She watched herself fall on the surveillance system she’d set up, while at the same time experiencing rush of plummeting groundward. Her wings locked into place as she pushed herself into a dive.

The same child that saw her weeks earlier would be punished again by her mother for lying about seeing a woman fall from the building.

With a kick from her engines, she pitched herself over, aiming to land on the balcony feet-first. A few moments before landing, she braked just enough to ensure that she wouldn’t just smash straight through the flimsy steel structure, but still land with the the appropriate ominous bang.


Roland was about to throw up as he read the message. It was the first he’d gotten from her in nearly two weeks. Ever since that GJ raid on Nehallenia, she’d been silent. It didn't take a genius to figure out why. And now, they’d followed her trail right to his doorstep. He was fucked. He was the redshirt on the away team and Spock had just announced an unknown lifeform was advancing on their position.

“Alright,” he gulped. “Alright,”

Better a life on the run than life imprisonment. The courier would be downstairs soon enough.

‘We keep good hackers safe,’ the message promised. They promised a whole new body. A whole new identity. So long as whatever he became kept working for them.

He stuffed his suitcase... figured stuffing it for a vacation would be stupid, pulled everything out, then tried to figure out what of his life he wanted to save. He had maybe a minute or two to get down to the courier and get the hell out of there.

Something slammed into the balcony outside, hard enough to sound like a bomb going off. He almost felt the shock run across the floor and up through his body. He stumbled for a moment, before turning to face the glass balcony doors.

Run! his body screamed.

He stood and gaped as it ripped the lock off the doorway. The glass shattered and collapsed around its feet.

It was just a little taller than he was, silhouetted against the evening sun. Broad shouldered and feminine, wings wider than its arms and blades that shone in the sunlight.

“Who....who are you?” he blurted out, stumbling back.

He bumped into his own bed and tumbled over, landing heavily on his tailbone. It sent a shock right up his spine. He scrambled backwards on all fours, knocking over his suitcase and spilling it’s contents.

“I’m here for you,” it said. An arm extended, a metallic finger pointing. “We’ve been looking for the dick responsible, and now that we’ve found him...”

He choked, his mind whirling, trying to put a name to the body. There were at least three candidates... and any one of them looked bad for him getting out of there with his arms still attached to his body. They could twist his limbs off as easy as twisting the legs from a well cooked chicken.


The figure stepped forward into his room, using a slow, long funerary thread that thumped on the floor. It had some sort of high heels, flashed of bare metal glinting. Liquid reflections flowed across the surface of it’s armour. A helmet shaped something like an anteater with a taper towards the front. Deep blue, pale white.....

“I can break your neck with a finger...” it said, jabbing with it's index finger to demonstrate how. “Or pull your arms off and watch you bleed out on the floor. I can pop your guts like a pimple. I can throw you hard enough off that balcony that you hit the tower wall. And that’s if I’m being nice,”

And trying not to just giggle at it.

He raised his hand... “Now... now I …. now I know my rights. You have to arrest me.”

Rorschach quote time.

“Men get arrested. Dogs get put down.”

“Hey! Hey!” he pleaded in between gasps. Something was biting deep into his chest. “I just... all I did was.... I didn’t do nothing to deserve to die!” For fuck’s sake man...”

It seemed to stare at him. He stared at the blades on its arms

“Do I look like a man to you?” it said, gruffly. There was a rough edge to its voice, hoarse like a singer after a long concert. “You deliberately created a security vulnerability in a software module, then gave the details of this to the Boskone, who used it two attack two friends of mine....

“Hey... I didn’t...”

“You knew! We’ve been reading your emails. We’ve been watching you coming and going. We’ve been listening in. We know all your secrets. “

Rolands mind went into tailspin. He could sense the grin behind the visor; a coyote’s grin, he thought.

“I only...”

“Bullshit! You only made the whole damn thing possible, and you think that just because you were some small little cog in the machine, or that you were finished being evil, or that you didn’t plan to actually use it yourself.... that that somehow absolves you of the responsibility of your actions. Roland, you’re a spy. You’re an enemy spy. You’re a traitor. And you know what happens to traitors and spies.”

He’d heard the stories.

“I don’t want to die,” he whimpered. “I swear... I just.... I didn’t... I …. I …” he hiccuped. “I ju...” he coughed.

“I tell you what,” the armoured woman said with malicious kindness “I like a bit of sport. I’ll give you a minute to run. To try get downstairs. To try get to your car.... “

“Huh...” Roland gaped.

“Fifty-nine,” said the figure.


“Fifty-eight,” she said, making a deliberate show of the tarnished steel fixed to her arms.

Roland’s legs outran his mind. He scrambled up to his feet, stumbling over the spilled clothes, kicking his suitcase out of the way. He tumbled through the door, hitting the opposite wall, before he made a break for the lift at the end of the corridor.

“Fifty-seven,” the cyber called after him.

He stabbed at the call button, waiting for what felt like forever and a day for the doors to finally rumble open. He punched the button for the lobby, before holding down two buttons he knew would activate the lift’s maintenance feature and take him straight down.

As a muzak Girl from Ipanema played over the speakers, he finally caught up with how badly screwed over his life had just become. And he was too terrified to start crying.


Ford pulled the rebuilt pickup up outside the lobby, and waited. She had Deep Purple on the stereo, and the repaired engine was grumbling away. All was well.

Jet was laughing.

It gave her a warm feeling throughout her body to hear Jet laugh like that. It was deep and hearty, sharp and chirpy, and well worth the bother of convincing her to come out here. It was the first time she’d heard it in what felt like a long time. If she thought about it, it might’ve been at least as far back as before SerenityCon.

“He’s gone for the lift,” the cyber finally managed to get out. “About a minute he’ll be down to you. Poor fucker. I’d almost feel sorry for him getting a scare like that.”

“I’ll look at the video tonight.” she said. “And what was with that ‘Do I look like a man to you’? Finally decide to join us?”

“Just thought it’d something be cool to say.” Jet answered. “And just because I don’t consider myself a man, doesn’t mean I consider myself a woman.”

“Oh, do enlighten us.”

“Well, I quite obviously amn’t male. I don’t feel female. I feel like a flight capable, armoured cyborg, and for us cybers...” she spoke haughtily, as much as she could manage. “.....gender is little more than an appearance, a decision made for personal preference, a fashion statement, or to avoid scaring the shit out of the catgirls by stomping in like Robocop.”

Ford sighed loudly, loud enough to be heard aloud across the comm-net. “I still think you’re afraid of admitting it. Otherwise, you’d have been more vehement about getting a male puppet.”

The growl she got back made her smile.

“I'd also like to be recognised as Jet Jaguar.”

It was a branding thing.

“And you’ll feel better if you play into it a bit more, trust me,”

“We’ll see,” Jet sounded exasperated. “But in the future, such things really won’t matter.I can have a copy of my mind in this body, a copy in a male, a copy in a female, a copy in any sort of body or form, and each copy can be independent, but still synchronising with each other at regular intervals over something like bittorrent.... so they’re all individuals, and all still Jet, and I become the sum of all their experiences. If one drops out or dies, the whole still remains as a collective of Jet.”

It sounded pre-prepared. Ford wondered just what website she’d stolen it from.

“And I’ll bet you’ll just use the male and female version to try out a whole new method of masturbation.”

There was a snort over the link “DYO!”

“I know what that means. I finally looked that meme up... sweetling.” she purred, rolling her tongue around that last word.

“Hah!” Jet barked.

“And really,” Ford continued after a few moments thought, “I think that copying might cheapen the individual. The more common a resource is, the less it’s worth. By being unique, I’m invaluable, and I must be careful to guard and protect myself, while a collective of Jets wouldn’t worth the hardware they’re built on. It’d be a long, slow, nihilistic despair. Nothing would be risky, so nothing would matter. Your whole life would be reduced to a computer game where nothing and no-one would ever be worth a damn again, because it would all be so easy to replace.”

There was no answer. Got her! Jet was busy searching for a response. Ford glanced at the lobby, then checked the time on her watch. There were still a few moments to wait. She lowered the driver’s window and unlocked the tailgate. The truck had been rigged for prisoner transport, with the rear bay being stripped, and covered over by a pressurised cap. The only thing back there was a pair of handcuffs.

She stared at the elevator doors, willing them to open. The thought occurred to her that Roland might’ve had the sense to switch to the stairs, but she doubted it. He’d been in terror getting into the thing.

She began drumming her fingers anxiously on the steering wheel. This was taking way too long.

The doors opened a moment later, and Roland came tumbling out. He tore across the floor at a dead run, startling a few of the mundanes present. He burst out the front airlock door, stumbling down the steps.

“Target sighted,” she radioed.

“Copy,” Jet responded. “On my way down now,”

Ford pressed on the horn; one single long peal.

“Roland Foster!” she yelled. “I’m your ride,”

Roland was looking at her truck like a shipwrecked sailor looked at a liferaft. He was wide eyed with fear, crashing into the drivers door hard enough to rattle it, and rock the truck

“Thanks.” he wheezed. “Oh thank God.” he puffed. “They’re trying...” he hiccuped. “They’re trying to kill me,”

It was a new experience for him.

“In the back” Ford directed, with a gesture from her thumb. “Into the bay,”

Roland stumbled around the truck, pawing at the fresh paintwork. He fumbled at the latch, jerking at it. Above him, a turbine scream filled the air. He looked up, to see that awful silhouette pitching itself off of the building, diving ten stories down.

“It’s here!” he yelled, banging on the tailgate. “She’s coming for me.”

“Pull the lock,” Ford growled.

The tailgate fell open and Roland jumped up into the bay. He didn’t even have to be told to close the tail, pulling it shut behind him. Ford allowed herself a mischievous little smirk as she pushed the button to engage the locks.

Roland pulled himself forward, hands and feet thumping on the metal floor pan. He pressed himself up against the rear bulkhead of the cab, banging on the dividing window with the palm of his hand.

“Drive! Drive!” he begged.

Ford looked back at him, wearing a thin smile.

“What the fuck? You’re supposed to pick me up right?”

Ford nodded, and turned back around, fetching something from the glove compartment. The she sat, waiting.

“Move it!” Roland screamed. Ford looked sourly back at him.

“Still waiting on someone,” she said.

Jet landed hard on the road in front of the truck, making a hollow thump on the thick road surface. The cyber drew herself up to her full height, blades gleaming on her arms.

“Oh God,” Roland whimpered. She started to stride towards the truck with a terminal purpose. Her feet tak-tak-tak’d across the hard surface.

Roland pushed himself back into the centre of the truck, on the verge of throwing up. “I don’t want to die,” he whimpered. “I don’t want to die.”

I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I’m sorry... I’m so sorry.

The cyber strode up to the passenger door and pulled it open with a very deliberate tug. It squeaked a little as it opened, allowing the noise of the outside world in. A small crowd of curious onlookers had gathered to watch the commotion.

Roland’s mind just deadlocked as she saw her calmly sit onto the reat bench seat, stretching her legs where the passenger seat had once been, then closed the door behind her. The faceless helmet turned around to acknowledge his presence, before turning back towards the front of the truck.


His mouth goldfished.

“Conspiracy, Violation of personal dignity, cybercrime, you've been a bad boy Roland,” she waggled her finger at him, before pressing something against the divider.

“Wha~,” the programmer slurred. “You're not the Patrol. Who the hell are you?”

“The name's Ford Sierra, bounty hunter.” She indicated towards the cyber with a nod of her head.

“They call me Jet,” it said in a cheery tone.

Roland blinked once, then twice, then stared at the card pressed against the window. By Authority of The Inspectors Office of Marsbase Sara; Licensed to apprehend fugitives for reward; Ford Sierra.

“Now that we're introduced, I’d really appreciate it if you handcuffed yourself there,” she smirked at him.

This, this was her favourite part of the job. Always. Roland found the handcuffs left hanging for his benefit. Manufactured from billet-steel.

“But... but... but...” he coughed. “This is cruel and unusual punishment, they’ll have to release me!”

Yes. Definitely.

The cyber’s head turned to face.

“You’re still alive. And we got you into the truck and to the cops without a struggle that might’ve hurt you, or a passerby. If you want cruel and unusual,” she said, sounding mild rather than obviously menacing, “...there’re plenty of Zwilniks who know how to reward traitors and failures.”

Somehow, that just made it worse.

Roland slumped against the side of the truck bed, energy draining from his body. That was it... his life was gone. Pissed against the wall and trickled down the drain. He couldn’t even go back to the safety of his old position. There was nothing left to do but sit quietly through the sick inevitability of it all.

The truck pulled away while the cyber in the front seat cued up the jazzy OP of a mid-nineties animé series. They passed the local PD going in the other direction and started to drive through the city. He watched in sullen silence as Jet finally took her helmet off, revealing a human face and scarlet red hair that bordered on pink.

Ford seemed to be her opposite. Tanned skin, dark hair, and a far sharper look in her eyes, despite them being hidden behind a pair of aviator sunglasses. It made him wonder how they met. He decided that it just didn’t matter. He just sat and sulked and decided he’d be better off feeling sorry for himself, rather than picturing the inside of Azkhaban prison.

“So, what’s your answer?” Ford said to Jet, solely to fill the silence.

Jet blinked, then looked out the window at the dome beyond, and the sky beyond that.

“The things that matter to me, the things that really are worth a damn, are important because I choose them to be important. So long as they’re still important to me, I’m still myself, no matter what the hardware and wetware are. If they ever stop mattering, then I’ve stopped being myself,”

Ford glanced over at her partner, before returning her attention to the road.

“What website you pull that off?”

“Didn’t...” said Jet, wearing a self-satisfied smirk.

“Shows,” snarked Ford. Jet scowled. Then smiled. Then laughed lightly. “And Jet, “ Ford continued, “That wasn’t the answer I wanted. Which body?”

Jet glanced back at the prisoner in the cargo bay, grinned just a little bit, and sent her answer by text message.. It chirped up onto the console in front of Ford.

“And that,” Jet put a point on it with a mischievous smirk “Would be something for you, and only you. Only you get to see that side of me,” Jet’s voice dropped to a low, almost lusty burr. “That makes it rare, and that makes it invaluable, right?”

Ford smiled softly at her, “Yes, it does.” The pair looked back at the prisoner in the back. “Maybe we should continue this at home,” Ford suggested.

“Good idea.”

They left Helium behind, driving out towards the space port.

“Where are you taking me?” Roland finally managed to ask.

“Sara,” Ford said. “We’ll turn you over there,”

The HPD wouldn’t appreciate her gazumping a fugitive just as the warrant went live, before they even had a chance to try make the arrest. It wasn’t illegal, but it was frowned upon. It wasn’t going to do her reputation with the HPD any good. Oh well. After that last incident, it wasn’t like it could get worse.

The truck creaked as it passed out of the main airlock. Jet began to fidget, shaking the truck just a little bit. Ford was busy handling the traffic control, guiding the truck around taxiways. A pink-hued Blackbird from the AEUG shot in for a landing, sending a shot of anger through Roland’s body.

That should’ve been him.

“That’s why I did it,” he said to himself.

“What?” said Ford, glancing back at him through the mirror.

“The Blackbird... a..” He stopped, trying not to break down. He could feel the tears trickling down his cheeks. “A chance to get up there, to have my own big adventure..” He stopped again, his face changing to a mask of fury, “While you Mary Sues are out there dicking around and having fun, I’m stuck being the poor bastard who has to support it and make it happen, and I was sick of it,”

Jet snapped around with a hiss, the chair creaking under her weight. Ford’s foot went for the brake pedal, just in case. Roland jumped back away from the bulkhead, for the briefest moment certain that Jet was about to tear through to him.

“Gobshite,” she hissed, turning back towards the front of the truck.

Ford breathed a sigh of relief. Dear Sweet Dan Ackroyd in a Dodge that had scared the ever loving hell out of her.


Roland was arrested by the Space Patrol at the Marsbase Sara office. He was led away, softly crying to himself. Ford got paid.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s better than not.”

Something about that rang hollow in the garage. A heavy gear was awaiting repair. There were some messages. The pair got about their business in a strange, sombre quiet. There was an elephant sitting right there in the living room with them. It wasn't just sitting, it was pissing on the furniture, demanding to be acknowledged.

It wasn’t until nearly an hour had gone by that Ford finally broke the silence.

“Jet, we need to talk.”

Jet only needed to get one look at her expression to know what it was about. Jet’s first instinct was to just dismiss it somehow. I’m tired, I have to get to Grunthal for training. Ford was giving her a grave look

“You scared the hell out of me in the truck, Jet.”

Fords voice was cold and hard steel. It was a knife to Jet, cutting right through the fog in her mind. It was an attack. It was everything she feared. Ford knew. Ford was going to talk. A flash of anger boiled up from deep within, burning up through her body before she quenched it hard. Jet gave her an almost betrayed look...

“It was no big deal,”, she said quietly, trying to turn around.

“Yes,” said Ford, standing her ground. “It was. I think it was the same thing I overheard on the Nova. I think it’s the same thing I’ve been seeing for the last two years, that’s been slowly eating away inside.”

Jet stepped back. “It’s nothing, really.” she said.


“It’s nothing!”

Ford pushed forward. “Jet, we can either sit down and deal with this right here, just between the two of us, or I can let AC or one of your Gruppe leaders know about it.... or the Space Patrol find out when you finally lose your shit on some dipshit Zwilnik... It’s your choice Jet.”

Jet’s mouth swung open, her mind stuck in spinlock for a second. She had that deer-in-headlights look on her face. Ford had her poker face on, daring Jet to call her bluff. The cyber was breathing through her nose, deep and heavy, almost angry. It was bristling through her body.

“No one can ever know,” she said, almost hissing the words.

Jet would never forgive her if she told anyone. Jet knew Ford knew that. She knew damn well her partner would do it anyway because it was the right thing to do.

“If we can work this out between us, nobody needs to,” Ford assured her, calmly.

“And if we can’t?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Jet slowly began to cool off. It was the perfect trap, she had to admit. She looked at Ford, trying to look her in the eye. Ford’s gaze was steady, her jaw set grimly. There was a slight smile on her face, a gentle curl up at the edges of her lips.

“What do I do?” Jet asked, softly.

“Well, maybe take some leave first....” Jet scowled. “... no arguments. Whatever you’ve got coming, take it. Take a freaking holiday, and then after that, well,” she smiled back. It was a smile of obvious relief. “...What do you want to do?”

That was the hardest question anybody’d ever asked her.

Alita’s office was, like many of the rooms in the older parts of Grunthal, uncomfortably small and cluttered with equipment. There were books on martial arts, a spectacular collection of Bruce Lee films and a cute Gally doll Daisuke’d bought for her last Christmas. A few scrap-iron nick-naks had been put together either by herself and Daisuke. Dai himself was the only person sitting.

There was just enough space inside for the Gruppe leaders to have a discussion in person. Jet wasn’t really paying attention, she was mired in her own thoughts.

“So,” Daisuke began. “Preliminary analysis suggest that it is a digital copy system, but it has nowhere near the storage capacity needed to copy a whole personality. It appears to copy the most recent memory, then start moving back through older and older ones until it runs out,”

“Is it...repeatable?” Yoko asked him. She was staring right through him.

“With a few years hard research, maybe. But the storage requirements are so big for a full mind. It looks like full-person backups and forks just aren’t possible yet,” He sighed a little. It was hard to tell if he was disappointed, or relieved.

And that right there could be the game changer in the future. Everyone knew it.

“Their basic plan was to create artificial memories using an unwilling test subject, copy them, and transplant them into one of us. The system is capable of that right now. We even tested it,” he flushed a little nervously. “It felt weird. The details will be in my typed-up report.”

Alita looked at him, surprise on her face. “You tested it on yourself?” You idiot, her tone added.

He smiled at her, “It would have been bad karma to test it on someone else. And we needed the data,”

“Let me know before you do something that stupid, so I can slap you out of it,” Alita glared at him. She was cute when she glared.

He folded his arms “Can not have you armoured amazons taking all the risks, us mechatronicians have to do our fair share”

“Perhaps,” she said, hiding a laugh.

Jet waited a few moments before speaking. “What if you streamed the data to the new brain, like a youtube video, only using the hardware storage as sort of a buffer?”

“We thought about it,” Daisuke said, “That is how I do it with the AR’s. But it is different for the human brain. The resulting copy would not be very coherent.,” And it was obvious he was repeating an explanation he’d been given, “It would be like streaming a video file when the structure of the file on the source disk is constantly changing.” Not forgetting that they were talking about copying people, not just files. “But really, it is just a matter of having the storage capacity before this technology becomes commonplace.”

Alita looked at everyone in the room. “I don’t understand why it bothers everyone. Even though they start from the same base, from the first millisecond, from the first thought they’ve become a different person. It’s like having a child.”

The AR’s were her daughters, more than her sisters in that respect. While it was new for the humans, and former humans, Alita and the AR’s had already solved that philosophical question to their own satisfaction.

Jet pondered on what she’d been joking about a day earlier, and wondered what would happen if both parent and child consciousness could be re-synchronised? What would the result be?

Weird, probably.

Dai continued. “We have thought about it, and we have decided not to release details of this system publicly. The technology will be kept proprietary among trusted members of the confederation. It is too much of a Genesis Device.”

As much as Jet could see the benefits having this sort of technology available would bring, as much as she hated the concept of technology being hidden away just because it might be possible to use it for evil, she couldn’t get over the fact that the first time it’d been used, had been the ultimate in evil perversion of its potential. It had been used to torture. It had come within weeks of being used for murder. It had been used to violate a person’s self in the deepest possible manner.

“Keeping it quiet will not stop somebody else from inventing it, we know that, but this gives us time to analyse the technology, understand it, hopefully find a way to detect, reverse or mitigate it and maybe realise some of the benefits it promises.”

He sighed, brushing a few dark strands of hair off his face. For just a moment, he allowed everyone to see just how tired he really was.

The thought occured to Jet; imagine what would’ve happened if the first use of the internet had been for crime, what would’ve happened then? It was a crying shame that it was invented by some zwilnik madgirl, and not somebody else.

“I’ll agree with that,” she said with a curt nod. “It’s just too dangerous, and that’s coming from me. While it’s something I don’t feel I have to right to decide personally, my recommendation to GJ was to classify this to hell. ”

“I hope that’s the last we hear of it,” said Yoko with a snort.

“It probably will not,” Daisuke chose pessimism. “It is a matter of time,”

She shrugged. “I still choose to live in hope,”

A short silence followed.

“Now. Vanko and Jana?” Alita kept the agenda moving.

Jet was still mulling it over in her mind. One moment looking for a way to make it work, another saying she recommended the details be locked away and hidden.

“Vanko has made a full recovery,” Yoko said, “But he’s always been adaptable. Once he was over the shock of it, it was water off a ducks back. If he keeps up like this, he should be ready for Letzt Kampf Prufung as we expected,”

“And Jana, Jet?”

Jet snapped out of it.

“She’s getting better,” Jet said. “It’s tough for her because you know how she is. But she’s been working with Acht a lot. I think they plan to enter Jeanne’s Dance together this year. She’s got a good grasp on her self again, and she and Acht work well together,”

Jet took a deep breath. Fuck it, no time like the present.

“I’ve got some leave coming up. A couple of months or so saved up over the last two years. I need a break myself, so I was thinking of taking it.”

Everyone seemed to stare at her. That’s how Jet felt. She began to crank up the explanation she’d spent all night preparing, one involving the elastic and plastic ranges of metal deformation, lines in the sand, and her own psychology.

“If you need it,” Alita said, simply.


And done
Senshi Candidate
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