Something different this week, a short piece of fiction inspired by Shadowrun.
As ever, comments and criticisms are welcome!
Rain-slick tarmac reflected the cracked blue neon tubes of Harran’s Diner. Leonin leant against the cool concrete of a doorway across the road, his collar turned up against the biting wind. He’d been standing here for about thirty minutes, his hands in pockets and his cybernetic eye powered down, watching the door.
About five minutes ago, three patrons had entered, a couple of elves and a troll, and then left moments later to take up discrete sentry positions. He had smiled at that. He’d been told their contact was security conscious, but these were obviously trained professionals. He had begun to wonder if Mr Johnson worked for one of the mega-corps when the man himself turned up, striding confidently down the street as if he owned it.
A dwarf of middling years, Mr Johnson was dressed smartly, with the tell-tale sheen of synth flesh covering cyberware mods around his eyes and hands. The rain was deflected by an umbrella carried by an aide, one of five, walking at his side. The other four, all armoured, masked and wielding snub-nosed rifles, walked with military precision and dispersed at a gesture from their employer, taking up overwatch positions around the Diner.
Leonin counted off in his head, waiting for the agreed upon time and then shrugged himself upright. One of the guards noticed the movement, his gun barrel twitching slightly. The troll stepped from its position and sauntered casually into the Diner as he approached.
The Diner’s security, a broad shouldered female ork with a scarred lip, glared at him as he approached and pulled out a scan-baton.
“Stand,” she said, indicating a faded cross on the soaked tarmac. Leonin nodded and stood on the spot, raising his arms. The baton hummed into life and passed over his body, chirping at the sheath strapped to his belt. The ork wrenched his coat open and drew the knife, staring into his eyes as she did so. “No weapons allowed. Bosses’ orders.” She grunted, flipping the short blade and handing him a tag. “Claim it when you leave.” He nodded and smiled easily, he had expected something along these lines when Johnson had suggested the diner and when the ork had not approached any of his people.
“May I?” He asked, his tone smooth and unflustered, gesturing towards the door. She nodded, her eyes already sliding away from him and towards the steaming mug in the little shelter she had been provided.
The door ground slowly open as he approached, the mechanism whirring audibly.
“I apologise for the safety measures.” Johnson called out from the only occupied table in the Diner, his arms opening to encompass the few standing, and visibly armed, patrons in the place. “They are necessary for a man in my position.” Leonin laughed.
“What position is that?” The dwarf gave him a searching glance with narrowed eyes.
“That is of little consequence. Now, sit. We have business to discuss.” Leonin walked slowly over to the indicated chair, his eyes firmly on Johnson.
“Indeed, we do. You have the information Jorral requested?” The dwarf nodded and slid a folder across the scratched plastic table.
“Half of it is in there. The rest will be delivered upon completion of the job.” Leonin’s jaw clenched momentarily before he nodded, his face open and relaxed. “I appreciate your deactivated ‘ware, by the way. I assure you, your confidence in me puts you in good standing.”
“I judged a man with your security requirements would be unwilling to have his face recorded.” Leonin said quietly, reaching out for the folder. “I expect that the security systems along your route experienced short-term malfunctions upon your approach.” The troll, the one from outside who was now standing near Johnson’s shoulder, chuckled quietly.
“Indeed.” Johnson said, “Let me re-assure you that division of payment is a standard practice for me, it is not a slight on your reputation.”
The speaker in Leonin’s ear whistled quietly and Jorral’s voice came over the line.
“He has someone searching for your face. Halsa is slowing them down but don’t take too long. We need that mask to work for a few days more.”
“I appreciate your honesty.” Leonin said, meeting Johnson’s eyes. “To business then?” The dwarf nodded.
“An acquaintance of mine has stumbled across some information that he should not possess. I am willing to give you the rest of your payment after your decker’s services have yielded fruit. Nothing difficult. Just a simple server intrusion and data mining.” Leonin laughed.
“Nothing is ever a simple intrusion in this business. You have the relevant information to hand?” Johnson nodded and slid another file across to him. “Jorral has most of the details but there is an updated summary, along with some additional information, in the folder. I trust you will be discrete?” Leonin smiled, nodded and stood.
“Discrete and swift. That’s how we do things.” He nodded at the dwarf. “We’ll be in touch.”
Without looking back, he walked out of the Diner and claimed his knife.
“Have a great evening.” He called to the ork over his shoulder. “Take plenty of vid for what happens next.” His hand found the transmit button sewn into the cuff of his coat. “Contact Ares. Tell him I have the proof of the dwarf’s involvement. The job’s finished.” He smiled as he walked away, content with another run safely completed.