Running Away

I was asked by the GM of the Cyberpunk 2020 game I’m a part of to write a “what has Alessandra done since last session,” thing for some closure. Essentially, Alessandra Moretti was my Netrunner that I’ve been playing, but she’s decided that being a low life scum isn’t for her and has (re)joined the glorious corporate master race. I thought I’d put it up here.

My next character is also a member of the glorious corporate master race, but she’s better suited to working with criminal scum. She’s the driver/pilot for a very professional corporate security team 😉


Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Fuck. Shit.

Expletives are all that seem to rush through my mind as I leave the hospital. Seeing Vibora in the hospital, all hooked up and totally incapacitated was just too much; I thought he was joking, trying to raise my spirits as he always tried. I thought I’d turn up to see him fine, maybe with just a scratch. He always seemed to shrug off the worst the Combat Zone threw at us.

Then there was me. Always hiding. Always with my tail between my legs. I tried so hard to help. I tried so hard to be useful, to not be a burden. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I am not cut out for this world. This world, this line of work, will eat me up and spit me out. I don’t want to die in a ditch, bleeding because some punk decides that they feel like attacking me. Then there’s Calm Boi. Now there is a person who isn’t likely to win any awards for being a good employer. The pay for the jobs was trash, I was expected to do jobs way, way out of my area of expertise; I mean, come on, professional make up and hair? Managing a spoiled little brat and her spoiled little brat friends? How many netrunners have to deal with that shit? My sister said I was free, but she’s wrong. I am just bound by different shackles. Shackles made of some shitty, jagged metal. Calm Boi promises the world, but ends up trying to kill us.

Fuck. That. I want my shackles to be comfortable, maybe with fur lining. All these “free” people, preaching their anti-corporate bullshit are just immature. This is the way the world works, the way the game is played. You play by the rules, you play well; trying to bend or break the rules will just get you disqualified, fatally, but playing well nets you vast gains.

I reach my apartment building and make my way upstairs. It’s late, I’m tired, I’ll think more tomorrow. I get undressed, glancing over at the clothing that I was going to throw in the trash. I had almost forgotten about that whole episode. Having to dive into a pile of garbage to get away from a seriously fucked up situation, and Douma didn’t even give a shit to see if I was okay. Asshole. I eventually fall asleep, windows open, in nothing but my underwear. Night City is perpetually hot at this time of year.

The following morning, I catch up on the news and get dressed. I call the number that my sister provided and somehow manage to get an interview; maybe the tech team was already recruiting, or maybe my family name carries more weight than it perhaps should. I don’t really give a crap about the reasoning, I just want in to the corporate world. I was a complete fool to try and run from it, my life has been nothing but misery and fucked up situations since I left the comfortable life. Anyway, I have things to do today. I head to the mall. It’s time to go suit shopping.

I spend most of the morning walking around the shops, eventually picking out a smart, black suit, some shirts, blouses, smart shoes, the whole ensemble. Running around as a low life, I never really needed such clothing, but in the corporate world, the real world, I understand the importance of appearances better than anyone. It fits snug, keeping my curves noticeable but definitely rocking the “smart, businesslike” appearance. I grab lunch and my mind wanders. I wonder how the guys are doing. I wonder if I’m even missed. Not likely, with how useless I was. I don’t know, I’d hope to be missed by Vibora, but I don’t reckon Douma will give a shit. From this point on, Null_Point goes back to how she always used to be: a ghost who exists solely in the matrix.

A few days later, the interview goes well. They want to know of my skills and I show them what I’ve done. The cityscape I programmed seems to interest them, so perhaps a future in VR production is going to find me. I spend what feels like hours gliding through cyberspace, showing off a little bit here and there, a grim determination driving me to some of the best acts of computer manipulation I’ve ever done. In meatspace, I maintain a professional appearance, bringing back memories of my mother and father; how they raised me and my siblings to be the perfect corporate workers.

Such lessons prove incredibly useful as it takes a monumental effort to not baulk at how shitty a human being I’ve been. We were a happy family, strict but happy. My parents forged us into individuals with all the skills needed to not only survive, but excel in the corporate world and I ran away like a spoiled child. I gave such a bad example to my younger siblings, an irresponsible child squandering her future on notions of freedom. Yeah, if that’s freedom, I don’t want any part of it. I’d rather be comfortable and shackled in the corporate world than… well, uncomfortable, at risk of being mugged when I step out of my door and still shackled, but “free.”

A few days later I get a call to say that I got the job. Cybersecurity and programming are going to be my life from here on out. Null_Point becomes a ghost, Alessandra Moretti starts her journey up the corporate ladder. Not only that, but I burned a lot of bridges in my immaturity; bridges that are going to need to be rebuilt between myself and my family. I hope Vibora’s doing okay. I hope he doesn’t hate me for running away what seems like again, but it’s time to stop running; I’m just not built for that world.

Yeah, I’m going to wipe the floor with the competition with the variety of skills I’ve been expected to have as part of my previous job. I start next week, but in the meantime I have another move to organise. At least I don’t have that much stuff…

Asuka Tries To Do What Is Right

A quick note on this. Yes, it is highly biased because it’s from a certain character’s point of view. A certain character who is directly opposed to the rest of the party on a particular matter. It was from a Stars Without Number session in a campaign that I am a part of that I decided to turn into a brief piece of narrative. Essentially, we have a rat-man who is worth a lot of money welded to the ground. I play a doctor who thinks that his treatment is really inhumane and has been trying to hatch a plan to make it right. Then we get attacked by a guy who wants the rat-man and Asuka, my character, has to improvise with a far from perfect situation. Both plans were basically a betrayal of the party, but not in the sense that she’d kill everyone, but more in the sense that everyone else wants to sell him for large amounts of money and Asuka just wants to do what’s right in her eyes. This does not tide over well with the rest of the group when they find out about plan B. (They never found out about plan A).


Boom! Boom!

I struggle to keep my balance as the ship is hit by two more missiles. I can see on the holographic screen that the turret is a flaming wreck by this point. I hope Kiril got out okay; he may be a psychopath, but he is also a member of this crew. I make a mental note to sit down with him and get a proper diagnostic on his mental state at a later time, but time is not something that we currently have. The Ige-gumi helicopter starts to hover above the ship, armed men rappelling down along with the same man who came for Timmy before, a new cyberninja in tow.

There is no way I can prep these engines for take off in time. These armed men will be inside way before I can do anything useful here.

“I’m heading to the computer room. No way I can prep these engines in time,” I yell in English through the intercom as I pack up my tools and bolt down the corridor. I can see the movement outside the ship. They are getting into position. I can’t believe these idiots brought arguably the largest yakuza clan to our doorstep with an attack chopper. Why? Why couldn’t they have waited twenty four hours? I would’ve had Timmy out of here and in the care that he needs after what the crew has done to him. His mind is damaged beyond my counselling skills. He needs specialist help that I could’ve got him to. I had even planned on taking out a loan to cover the costs. It’s the least I could do now. I should’ve spoken up earlier.

But that plan has gone to hell. I will have to cancel the pick-up tonight. Why can’t these muscle-heads do anything right besides commit murder and inhumane atrocities? I get to the computer room and immediately try to hack into their comms. The security is there, but I easily overcome the obstacles and tap into their network. I hear them going over the plan. My God, they plan on blowing up the radiators once they’ve grabbed Timmy. That would cause the ship to explode and take the entire hangar with it. They want to kill us all, but it seems like they especially want John dead. Also, I get a name.

Reuben Jacobs.

I almost wish I hadn’t. Jacobs is big time in the Jewish mob, which explains why a yakuza clan would be working with a gaijin; he is obviously offering them something in return. Perhaps a share of the profits they’ll get from selling Timmy?

“Reuben Jacobs. We don’t have to do this,” I say into their comms network in English. I just hope that he is still amenable to reason after everything the crew have done.

“Oh?” he replies.

“That’s right. I am the ship’s doctor and I believe that we can come to an arrangement that doesn’t involve violence.”

“The rat-man. Give him to me and I’ll let you live. Hell, I’ll even give you the eight thousand that I promised your captain last time.”

“Done,” I say as I tap furiously at the computer keyboard, exploiting holes in the ship’s security to wrestle control of the doors.

“Nice job getting into our comms, by the way. I wasn’t expecting that,” Jacobs says as I open the ship airlock’s outer door.

“What can I say. I’m a woman of many talents,” I respond with a smile. “I want one of you to step into the airlock. Not you, Jacobs, and not the cyberninja. One of the others. I’ll release the rat-man into his custody and we can both go our separate ways.” I hear the thud of footsteps as John pokes his head into the computer room and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him what I am doing and instantly wish I had lied when he runs into the cargo bay.

“All right,” Jacobs says as he motions one of the yakuza into the airlock. I close the airlock door behind him and transfer comms to my compad, telling the man in the airlock how it’s going to go in Japanese to ensure he understands what I’m doing. I take my monokatana from my belt and leave it in the computer room before I run to the cargo bay and head over to where the rat man is welded to the floor. I fish around in my first aid kit and take out a tranquilliser, which I administer to the rat-man; I can’t risk him biting me while I work. Once he is sedated, I take out my toolkit and start cutting the rat-man loose. The whole scene makes my stomach turn every time I see it. Anything would be an improvement on this. We’re miles south of best case scenario right now, but at least I can save the lives of the crew in doing this.

As I work, John seems to have his own heated conversation with Jacobs as he points the humvee’s turret at the airlock doors.

“Change of plans. I’m going to bring the rat-man out myself. Tell your man to leave the airlock,” I say as I continue to release the rat man, re-opening the outer airlock door and re-iterating the change in plans in Japanese to the yakuza. Once he walks out, I shut the airlock door behind him.

“Hey, we’ve just been locked out here,” Jacobs says, suspicion prevalent in his voice.

“I have to ensure the safety of everyone. I will be out with the rat-man, don’t worry.”

That’s when I hear a click behind me.

“Asuka, if you don’t stop what you’re doing, I will shoot you. You’re getting between me and a pay day” John threatens as he points his spike thrower at my back. If I keep working, I have no doubt that he will pull the trigger. All over a pay day, of all things; he would shoot me over a sum of money, after all I’ve done on this ship, the hours I work. Morality and human decency on this ship are basically dead concepts.

Defeated, I stop what I am doing and pack up my things, leaving the job half done. I turn to John. “Then the deaths of the crew are on your hands, Mr. Mayhew,” I reply, though my tone is low. I make my way out of the cargo bay and transfer control of the doors back to the ship and the rest of the crew.

“Then I guess we do this the old fashioned way,” Jacobs says as he and the yakuza start to make their way around the front of the ship.

“I’m really sorry we couldn’t work this out, but the crew threatened to kill me if I continued. Can’t fulfil my side if I’m dead,” I say into their comms. I keep my link into their comm as I may need it should the crew fail to defeat these people. I slump down into the corner of the computer room and just let it all go. The stress, the emotional trauma, I let it all go, curling up and crying into my knees.

All this because I tried to do what was right. Well, at least I didn’t tell Summer of my plans, so she’s safe from John’s trigger finger should the crew make it out alive.