Hoi, chummers and welcome to my little corner of the Matrix!
My brain is spitting out nothing but drek for an intro post, so instead of trying to make something out of that, I will share a *very* rough draft of something I’m working on. By really rough I mean this still has my notes to my self sprinkled in here and there. If you don’t mind stumbling over some of the clutter in the ol’ mind palace, read on!
Sage didn’t wait for me to sit down before she started talking. The words burst out of her mouth like the steam from the espresso machine up front, “Jen, Bobby’s missing and I need you to find him.” Bobby was Sage’s younger brother and **(decker/wannabe decker – good for young age – 14-17 y/o) She explained that Bobby had been doing some shadow work for *(good-guy gang or activist group) and no one had seen him since he and his buddy Scratch had gone on a Matrix run 3 days ago. *(group)’s deckers had gone in after them but couldn’t find any trace that either boy had even been there. Not one mark, not even a little bit of the e-graffiti Bobby liked to hide when he was decking. It was too clean, too perfect.
Bobby and Scratch had been slinking around Horizon’s mainframe, quietly deleting and data bombing some files with particularly juicy info that would have put several members of the *(group) in prison had it ever seen the light of day. Apparently one of the group’s members had gotten some intel through his fixer that Horizon planned to hand over the files to the Knights Errant. In exchange, the KE would be willing to overlook some evidence that one of their mid-level executives had been involved with a child sex-trafficking ring.
“The *(group) has a whole squad of deckers, and good ones at that; did they jack out and ghost em, or what? I got no problem helping but frag-it Sage, they put those boys in the line of fire, why do they need me to clean up their mess?”
“They’ve been looking for them for the past 3 days, Jen. The squad can’t find hide nor hair of the boys; every trace has been scrubbed clean off the Horizon mainframe. Even Helf can’t find him and you know he’s one hell of a sleuth.” Jen was referring to Helfers, the *(group)’s ace decker, we’d worked together on a run once and Sage was right, the guy was good.
“You know I hate mixing business and family, Jen, but I don’t know who else to call. I know your affinity for fragging up Horizon’s drek, plus you know Bobby’s style, maybe you’ll have better luck tracking him down.” Sage knew my parents had both been corp deckers for Horizon back in the day. She also knew they had been killed when Horizon’s black IC had dumpshocked the wrong side in a matrix fight back in *(year that Jen was 13). Horizon denied their responsibility in the “incident” to this day, refusing to acknowledge their part in my parents’ deaths and because of that, refusing to pay out the corp-sponsored death benefits I should have received as their only survivor. They loved to advertise the bennies when recruiting new talent, but the payout always seemed to get denied when the claims were reviewed.
I would have taken the job anyway; Sage and Bobby were the closest thing I had to real family these days, and I would do whatever I could to help them. The chance to rain on Horizon’s parade was just icing on the cake, as it were.
I looked at Sage; I wasn’t used to seeing fear in her eyes like that. Sage had always been a tough cookie and had passed on her take-no-drek attitude to me. “Consider it done. Have the squad send me what they know and ask ‘em when we can meet to plan the run. I’ll get some legwork one and we can meet to hash out the details. I have a feeling I’m gonna need their help on this one.”
Jen tapped a couple things on her commlink, “The file is already on your link and they’re expecting you at the doss tonight at 1900 hours.” I checked the file, “Got it. Sage, I know telling you not to worry won’t stop ya, but trust me to get him back, ok? Bobby’s family and I’m not gonna let Horizon get away with this. I’ll get him home and make them pay.” I put my arms around her, the same way she had done that day when she found me in the alley behind the shop; digging through her trash looking for scraps of food. “I know you will Jen, I’m counting on it.”
I pulled my *(motorcycle) in to the lot below the *(group)’s place later that night. I was a few minutes early, but I preferred it that way. While I trusted the group’s deckers, I liked to do a little reconnaissance of my own before I headed in, just to be on the safe side. I pulled up the display on my AR goggles and scanned for nearby activity. Nothing popped out as too funny, just the usual stuff; couple decker-wannabes were trying to hack the Stuffer Shack down the street, some kid was putting some e-graffiti on the apartments next door, and corporate wage-slaves were sending and receiving various boring files, never truly ‘off’ even though their working hours were over. Satisfied that no one cared what we were up to, I engaged the bike’s lock system and headed inside.
The *(group) had set up shop in an abandoned warehouse on the city’s west side. Far from fancy, the place was still pretty homey considering the fact that it was free. Somebody’s brother had a boss who needed a tax writeoff and the *(group) was willing to keep the place from burning down or becoming a BTL nest, so it worked out well for all parties. The *(group) got a place for the low price of “keep out the drek-heads” and Mr Johnson got a place to hide his nuyen from the government.
The *(group) used the place for meetings, as well as a place for a few of the members to crash. Having someone on the premises at all hours made it easier to keep the BTL-heads and general dregs of humanity from wandering in off the street and causing trouble. A couple of the guys worked for the sanitation department and would bring in various pieces of furniture they found at the curb; abandoned when the owners decided to buy in to the corp-speak that newer was better. Members would fix up the busted stuff, and bust up the stuff that looked a little too new, just to make it feel a bit more like home. No one here was used to shiny new goods, and that “new stuff” smell made most of us jumpy.