Cast of Shadows – Snaketoast

When 5th Edition first came out, I blew the dust off an old idea… corrupt my coworkers with the idea of a free-flowing story they could control.  It was a surprisingly easy sell… a couple had played before and were eager to bring their 4th Edition characters back, while most had never played an RPG, or it had been so long, it was as good as new.  We sat down, drew up characters and prepped ourselves for our first game.  While I taught the mechanics of the game (keeping it high level, seeing as they weren’t gamers…yet), in order to paint the picture of what they were getting into, I wrote up stories starring their characters, to showcase the kinds of things they could do in game.  While they’re far from Pulitzer material, I figured I’d post the stories I wrote for people to read and (hopefully) enjoy.

The first character to be developed was the team mage with the nonsensical name of Snaketoast… a Quebecois mage whose family was torn apart by Cross Applied Technologies before the Crash of 64.  He strives to improve himself in order to dig into the now-defunct corporation to find those responsible and punish them.

+++decoding message+++

The rain came down in a slow, cold drizzle as the runner studied the front doorway beneath the large glowing centurion icon. It had taken some money and some time, but he had finally tracked down Gaston Fiore. It was part of a private contracting job, but when he learned that Gaston used to be an employee of CATCo back in Trois-Rivieres, it seemed an ideal opportunity to kill two birds.

Standing beneath the awning of a local coffee shop, Snaketoast was distracted from his recon momentarily by the barrista behind the counter. “Excuse me, sir? Your soykaf?”

“Ah, thanks,” he said with a smile. Sipping the closest thing to coffee he could afford, he pulled at the collar of his uniform. It had cost a sum of money, but he had convinced a local tailor to mock up a close facsimile to an Ares uniform. The knowledge of even wearing a corporate logo made his skin crawl, but it was a means to an end.

Taking a drag from his soykaf, he steeled himself against the elements and strode out into the rain. As he neared the Ares compound, he made out the sorry son of a bitch that was on guard duty and before acting, he switched his sight to the astral plane.

A world of colour and emotion super imposed itself over top of reality. The glow of the Earth was muted here, as all but a thin layer of topsoil and grass remained of nature, all of it paved over in concrete and glass. The building was thankfully free of magical protections and there were no signs of spirits on duty. A blessing to be sure. Luckily for him, Mr. Fiore was someone of low import. Turning his attentions to the front door guard, the man was only slightly augmented. Standard headware package. Fighting a cold and really resenting being out in the Seattle rain. His poor disposition would only serve Snaketoast better.

The mage began drawing mana from the local astral space, knitting together a spell as he began a purposeful walk to the front door. He focused on the guard, who had yet to notice his approach and thought “The next person to the door is a man of importance. Let him pass quickly.”

The tendrils of power wove their way into the guard’s mind and when Snaketoast reached the door, he scowled at the guard. “It’s fucking miserable out here. Open the door, will you?”

“Certainly, sir,” the guard said. Typing in the passcode, Snaketoast watched the code as it was entered and quickly stepped out of the rain into the sterile white hallway of the Ares building. He spotted the camera at the end of the hall and quickly stepped into a nearby office. Scanning the office, he found it vacant and using his commlink the workstation showed the employee was off for the day. Tossing his soycaf in the trash, he reached into his satchel, pulled out a handful of crystals and placed them in a symmetrical hexagon on the office floor. Standing in the middle of his makeshift circle, he began chanting softly, shifting his sight to the astral plane. The ambient mana of the room flowed through the crystals and coalesced over his head. After five minutes of concentration, the ball of energy overhead took the form of a serpentine spirit with an eye where the head should be.

“Yes?” his watcher spoke, the ‘s’ drawn out like the stereotypical snake.

“I am searching for a man. A human by the name of Gaston Fiore. Seek him out and report his location to me.”

“As you command.”

The watcher faded into the ether and the crystals used in the ritual shattered to dust with the ritual concluded. Not content to let his spirit do all the work, Snaketoast tapped into the astral once more, casting an Invisibility spell over himself. He watched as he faded from view. Satisfied, he pushed the astral signature of the spell to his focus and stepped out into the hall once more.

Walking lightly, he made his way down the hall. The camera would not see him, but it would not serve him to be heard by a patrolling guard. Thankfully for him, the building was busy. The main portion of the building was a large cube farm, with countless wageslaves slumped over their workstations, doing the megalithic company’s bidding for a handful of nuyen.

“Master, I have located your quarry,” the watcher reported, sending the mage direction by telepathy. Conference room past the cubicles… meeting was wrapping up. Perfect.

Making his way across the space, weaving his way carefully through the Ares citizens who were oblivious to the shadowrunner in their midst. He waited outside the conference room door for the managers to leave before slipping inside.

Gaston Fiore was a middle aged man of mediocre income, receding hairline and poor life choices. Snaketoast couldn’t judge the man for sleeping around on his wife, save for the fact that he was stupid enough to get caught and leave his wife access to his personal bank account, which she was now using to pay the runner. She had no prayer of winning anything in the divorce, going against a corporate lawyer, so she didn’t want him to have anything either. Petty, sure… but it pays the rent.

Gaston was all packed up and heading for the door, when he felt a hand on his shoulder and a gun barrel on the back of his neck.

“Speak and die. Understand?”

The manager nodded lightly, raising his hands in surrender.

“Lower your hands, dammit. Let’s not draw any attention, shall we? Keep your hand away from your commlink.”

As Gaston obeyed, Snaketoast pulled an optical chip from his pocket and slid it into the man’s commlink data port. His old hacker friend had cooked up a dataworm for him and within seconds, the worm weaved through the device’s firewall and began transferring the man’s assets to a separate bank account and noisily transferred company data out onto the Matrix, hopefully destroying the man’s reputation.

Having finished his primary objective, Snaketoast drew in the mana for a spell, glaring at the back of the man’s skull. Energy arced through his fingertips and drilled into the executive’s mind. Gaston’s eyes shot open and his jaw went slack as Snaketoast burrowed into the man’s memories. Going deeper and deeper, he looked for any signs of anything from Cross. The man hadn’t held much station, but even rumours were useful pieces at this point.

Flashes of images and conversations rolled through Snaketoast’s mind, as he shared the man’s memories of the old company from a decade before. He found nothing directly about his family, but rumours of the Serephim and a data breach that occurred that caused a stir within Cross itself. It could be a lead.

As the mage released his hold on the man’s mind, Gaston fell to his knees, coughing and retching from the violation. Without thinking, he sent the mental command to his commlink to raise the alarm. As the sirens went off, Snaketoast cursed under his breath and fired off a Stunbolt that dropped Gaston to the floor.

The door to the conference room locked down and the hiss of a gas release system filled the air. Snaketoast wove another spell and held his breath no longer feeling the need to exhale. Peering through the conference room window, he caught sight of a poor wageslave walking nearby, while the corpsec team was still prepping themselves. Unable to wait for a full hypnotic suggestion, he used Control Thoughts and commanded “Open the door.”

Without thinking about what he was doing, the wageslave walked over and pulled the door open. The gas washed out of the room, dropping the employee and sending the security forces scattering for their respirators.

Starting to feel the drain taking it’s toll, Snaketoast threw caution to the wind and ran from the room. Seeing the break in the gas, a couple of guards fought against the gas’s effects to bring a weapon up, but were forced to keep their heads down as the runner fired his pistol at the guards. Behind him, he heard the guard order “It’s a mage! Switch to ultrasound!”

His invisibility now useless, he dropped both the invisibility and oxygenate as he ran for the door. Knowing he would have to fight his way out, he called to the astral one last time, hoping it wouldn’t be enough to take him out.

As he rounded the last corner, a guard in heavy armour stood between him and the exit. The Ares soldier raised his assault rifle. “Lay down on the ground right now, or die.”

Snaketoast absently wiped the blood from his nose, paying the price for his last act and dropped heavily to his knees. As he lowered himself, he sent the mental command “Take him.”

Snaketoast sprinted toward the guard as the floor seemed to become fluid rising up into a vaguely humanoid form of concrete and marble tile. Two obsidian pits glared down expressionlessly on the guard as the spirit took full form and roared with the sound of stones grinding against one another.

“Aw fu-” the guard said as the spirit drove him through the door and charged outside, hurling the guard into the grounds. The guard the Snaketoast had previously convinced to allow him entry opened fire on the spirit. The bullets chipped against the stone body of the spirit and the spirit vanished in a spray of broken tile.

As Snaketoast crossed the threshold and back into the rain, he heard “Freeze!” beside him. The guard looked puzzled for a moment, as the hypnotic suggestion was still there, though vastly weakened. The hesitation cost him as the Earth spirit burst from the ground at the guards feet, swallowing him up in dirt and stone.

“Once I am free of the grounds, you are free to return to your home, spirit,” Snaketoast said. “You have my thanks.”

Running off of the Ares compound and fading into foot traffic, he opened a channel on his commlink. “Hello, Ms. Johnson? The job is complete. I am sending you a bank account number with your settlement in it. Please leave the amount of my pay in the account and our business is concluded. Enjoy being single.”

Not bad for a days work. The rent was paid, he could afford food and he knew that he now had to track down information on the Seraphim. Answers would come. He had to be patient.

~ by 1nsomniac on February 3, 2015.

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