The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 4

It has been a while since I’ve written one of these, but with the move to a new job on the horizon I’ve been a bit busy. Combine that with some scheduling issues and we just haven’t had a session for a while.

Following on from the previous session’s conflict, our player character roster has changed slightly. We have:

  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.
  • Yuveleva “Loader” Konstantinovna – A Russian netrunner with a day job who seeks to earn mega-money through edgerunning.

Important NPCs that came up in this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Corrupted_Angel – A young netrunner under Iron Hawk’s employ who has started making a name for herself after a few successful clean up operations
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Doc Locke – A fully qualified doctor and medtech working for MediCare who has taken to edgerunning as a means of gaining practical experiences, as well as truckloads of cash.

We picked up the day after we last left off, with Hard Truth recovering from the wounds he suffered in his fight with Plata. He wanted to move, but couldn’t afford to pay a full month’s rent for what would have been about half a week, so he took his chances and waited for the month to be over before he moved apartment. During this time he decided to put his plans into motion and started a smear campaign against Plata, which gave mixed results. He successfully convinced one of the Jackals that Plata was a child molester and all around awful guy, hoping to get some rumours spreading within the gang that they both used to be a part of, but his attempts online were met with failure. He set up a fake profile on social media, spent a few days making “normal” posts, before making posts implicating Plata in sexual assault and pedophilia, however a netrunner by the name of n3t_sh4d0w uncovered the falsification and exposed it to the public.

Plata simply got out of hospital and was told by one of his colleagues that there was this smear campaign that someone tried to do on him, but the account was shut down shortly after being exposed as fake.

Meanwhile, Crossfire decided that he wanted to be homicidal and decided to go into the combat zone, going into Jackals territory in the middle of the night. He crit his streetwise check (hitting an almighty… average difficulty DC. He’s really not streetsmart) and managed to not get lost or stumble upon a group of angry combat zone gang members. Instead he found a pair of mildly intoxicated lovers, waited for the street to be clear, crept up behind them and shot the man in the back of the head, before grabbing the woman and choking her to death. He then put the bodies on top of each other, shot the woman in the back of the head and started to sneak away.

Now, for the record, I’m just as confused as you are, intrepid reader (unless you are Crossfire’s player, as I’m sure you had your reasons). Apparently, this was done to gauge reaction times of the Jackals, but I’m finding myself wondering if it was really necessary. Regardless, Crossfire was spotted sneaking away (as eight nearby Jackals heard the gunshot and one of them crit his awareness roll) and started trying to lose them in the alleys. Not being the most streetsmart of individuals, he got a bit lost and couldn’t seem to shake them. He eventually decided to climb up a building, rolling an impressive athletics check to start the climb, but he was seen by four of the Jackals who opened fire on him. Fortunately, they were unable to hit him before he managed to climb onto the roof of the building. He then managed to lose them while they worked out what to do about this and made his way back to the safety of the checkpoint and the moderate zone.

The PCs were then summoned to a meeting with Iron Hawk as she had a new job for them. They convened at a bar in Syndicate territory, where the PCs were introduced to Loader, a Russian netrunner who was to help them with this job. Iron Hawk’s motivations for giving the PCs this job were mixed. She has her reasons which I cannot disclose here for wanting Loader on the job (can’t say it because then the player could find out and it’s super secret right now!), but the reasons she’s giving this fairly big job to the PCs is a bit of forced development. Either the team will die on the job, or they will learn how to work together and not screw up as much. She used a bird metaphor and no one had the all-important zoology skill and I was disappointed, talking about how birds learn to fly. It seemed to go over the PCs’ heads.

The job itself was an important corporate extraction. The party were to extract an anti-AI researcher and bring him to a secure location in the combat zone. The party asked who was hiring for this job, but Iron Hawk advised that she could not divulge such information, but assured them this was not a kidnapping, as the target desired the move. Furthermore, Iron Hawk informed the party that three of her other more competent edgerunners were unavailable for hire as they were taking care of another job for her; these edgerunners were Corrupted_Angel, who had led the clean up operations following the PCs’ latest screw ups, Ghost and Doc Locke.

The PCs then spent the rest of the session planning what to do and considering purchases on the 40,000eb expense account they had been given for the job (they were told it would be a bad idea to run away with it. Spoiler alert, it would be an absolutely awful idea to run away with it). Loader demonstrated her netrunning prowess, subtly setting up a meeting between her and their target, as his email and phone contact details were undoubtedly tapped, so she hacked into a speaker at his home and made it play a message for him. As I had work the next morning and all most of what was going to happen was planning and purchasing, I decided to end the session there.


I thoroughly enjoyed this session, even though not much really happened. I’ve been waiting to spring proper jobs on the party for a while, and felt this was a good opportunity that would make sense. It’s a fairly substantial problem that the PCs have to tackle and multiple ways to go about it. It will be interesting to see how they go about it.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to compare how the PCs do it compared to the other team who are on a very similar job. The NPC crew, I will admit, were given the bigger, harder job, as Iron Hawk really needs the bigger job done right and didn’t want to risk giving it to this dysfunctional group of PCs she has; they are doing another extraction, but on an Autosoft executive. I have mapped out their plan, done the rolls and bought the gear they would need and I said I would show a comparison of the expense reports for the two teams and the two jobs, as anything bought on the expense accounts needs to be documented.

I can’t wait to see how it all pans out next week / the week after (depending on how long it takes).

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 3

This session was a typical “made plans, didn’t get to them” session. However, it was part of my plan that we wouldn’t get to my planned job, so I’m not disappointed. I knew that the players were going to have “things” to do this session, and was I right or was I right!

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • StR33t_Sa1Nt – An enthusiastic and fun loving netrunner who is eager to impress and has a massive crush / hero worships Archangel (a world famous netrunner)
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So I will be brief with most of what happened. There was a lot of sleeping and first aid and seeing ripperdocs as two of three party members were incredibly wounded following the previous job. I won’t bore you with the details, but this happened for a while. Hard Truth vlogged about stuff that happened in the world while he rested, however one his way to get first aid from Crossfire on one day he was mugged by some Jackals gangers, one of which got a massive crit roll for their brawling and punched him in the face, bringing him back into serious wounds.

Following on from this, Plata started his revenge-quest, trading some information that he pulled from the police archives to Iron Hawk in exchange for information on Aspect, the corporate who was a part of the opposing team from the previous job. He went for a stakeout, observing her apartment and saw her returning in the evening.

Crossfire asked Iron Hawk for the contact information of an edgerunner named StR33t_Sa1Nt, who was under her employ. Once he had this, he hired her to find a good gunsmith in the local area, but not in the Corporate Zone, and also information about the illegal street fighting ring known as the Crucible. She went to the Net to find the information, but was unable to find it there so she took to the streets, asking around for the information as she wouldn’t admit defeat in this relatively simple task. However, she was not the most streetwise of people and ended up not showing to a meeting that she and Crossfire had scheduled that evening. Crossfire dropped this altogether and continued about his business.

However, a few days later, Crossfire gets a call from a perturbed Iron Hawk. She asks him if he knows what happened with StR33t_Sa1Nt, to which Crossfire admits he does not. Turns out when she went to ask around she ended up getting kidnapped by Cold Snap (which is not a good thing for anyone involved…) and Iron Hawk hired other edgerunners to rescue the young netrunner, as following the last mission that they partially botched combined with this incident she didn’t trust the PCs to handle this.  She also implied that it was an expense that Crossfire was going to be responsible for.

She then called them to a meeting for a new job that she was going to give them, however this is where Plata and Hard Truth finally clashed. Plata had received the information as to who killed the detective and was determined to kill the cop-killer. He got to the meeting slightly before Hard Truth and tried to persuade the bouncer that he was going t beat someone up and that the bouncer shouldn’t get involved. He crit failed the roll and started an argument with the bouncer, at which point Hard Truth arrived and approached, greeting them both. Plata immediately grabbed him, put him in a hold and started to move him away from the bar. At this point, Hard Truth started calling for help, stating that the police were oppressing him in the lawless part of town, which attracted a nearby Syndicate ganger to his aid. Plata threw Hard Truth to the ground and yelled at the ganger to not get involved, trying to intimidate him, but it didn’t work. The Syndicate ganger shot Plata in the arm, rolling near max damage and causing limb loss. Plata passed his death save, but quickly surrendered. Hard Truth tried to punch him, so he dodged, but the ganger shot him again, scoring a headshot and killing Plata. The player burned luck (a houserule I’ve implemented) to avoid death and Plata was taken off to hospital again as he fell onto his healthcare card, snapping it and triggering a team to come and extract him. Hard Truth took his pistol.

Iron Hawk arrived later, arriving 15 minutes in advance of the meeting time (the other two arrived and tried to kill each other 30 mins before), and Crossfire was late as he was trying to move stealthily through the Combat Zone and was badly delayed because the Syndicate are observant (he wasn’t spotted though). In this time, Hard Truth asked how Plata might have gotten the information, to which Iron Hawk replied that she wasn’t the only information broker but he also could’ve investigated it himself, as police tend to investigate when one of their own is killed. During the meeting, Hard Truth spun his tale as to what happened between him and Plata to Crossfire, who was easily convinced, though Iron Hawk saw through his story. When Crossfire asked why Plata tried to kill Hard Truth, she gave Hard Truth the opportunity to explain, but he merely tried looking innocent, so Iron Hawk told Crossfire that Hard Truth had murdered a detective and Plata didn’t like cop-killers. Crossfire then basically called Iron Hawk incompetent which, after botching the last job she gave them (by running in guns blazing after being told that running in guns blazing likely wouldn’t work by Iron Hawk), getting one of her other runners kidnapped by hiring her for a job she wasn’t qualified to do (she was also a bit irritated that he didn’t just ask her for the information, as she is literally an information broker) and causing her expenses that could easily have been avoided… she had to roll a Cool check to see if she would keep her cool in this situation or just have them killed. At this point Hard Truth was dirty laundry, as she knows she shouldn’t have given Plata the information (but he rolled a 26), and Crossfire was showing to be a bumbling old man and not worth the trouble. She passed the check and so she didn’t order their “removal” but she was done with the meeting. Looking at Crossfire and Hard Truth (who was in critical wounds again) and considering Plata was no longer going to run with this team, she decided to give the job she had to her other team she had formed out of the NPCs that the players could hire.

Once Crossfire and Hard Truth had left Syndicate territory, Hard Truth explained that he didn’t trust Iron Hawk, but told Crossfire not to anger her because she’s a dangerous individual. The two would continue to work for her, but the implication from the conversation was that they were going to potentially oppose her in the future.

I have since rolled the dice for the B team and their job escorting a corporate around the Combat Zone to make some deals. They didn’t botch it.

Next week we return to D&D 5e, so this campaign is being put on hold for now (as with my current work hours there is no way I can run two games per week, however once I move to a new role I expect I will be able to because I hopefully won’t be working until 10pm each night)

I’m going to miss my beloved sci-fi subgenre…

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 2

What a roller coaster ride we had this week. I planned the next job for the PCs, intending it to be a thinker, one where they would really have to think about it rather than just attack it head on. Thought it would be good to send them up against some more organised opposition without throwing them against corporate security. Yet.

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Panther – An edgerunning solo who works for Iron Hawk. Very, very good with one-handed guns
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.
  • Acid – An edgerunning solo working for Cold Snap, dangerous in hand to hand combat
  • Omen – An edgerunning driver who works for Cold Snap
  • Aspect – A corporate manager of some sort who edgeruns by night, also working for Cold Snap

We picked up where we left off last session, with the PCs resting and recuperating after taking some hits from the last job. Plata bought some items through Iron Hawk, which we had already rolled for and mechanically taken care of during the week, and Crossfire came to the Combat Zone every day to perform first aid on Hard Truth to ensure he would heal and his wounds wouldn’t get worse.

This is actually where the initial fun began. Hard Truth, being a paranoid man, took different routes to meet with Crossfire each day. I had him roll streetwise checks each day to navigate the Combat Zone safely, which he did most of the time, but he managed to fumble the third day’s roll hard, so I brought out the random encounter table. The first one I rolled was that he got too close to corporate security guarding someone and they would shoot at him as soon as he got close, but I felt that didn’t make much sense as corporates have very little reason to go into the Combat Zone unless they’re edgerunners (who generally don’t have their own corporate bodyguards…), so I re-rolled and got possibly the best result I could have hoped for. Hard Truth, eternally wary that the Man was after him, started being tailed. He took alleyways towards his location, to see if this man who was shadowing him would follow through alleyways and he did; Hard Truth was being stalked! Hard Truth hid in an alley, pulling out his gun and holding it head height. The man shadowing him fumbled his awareness check and walked straight into the barrel of Hard Truth’s handgun. Hard Truth pulled the trigger, instantly killing the man following him. As he searched the man, he found a few eurobucks, a gun with some magazines, a wallet and two badges. One was his SIN card, the other was his detective badge. Clearly, the Man had sent this one to chase Hard Truth, when in reality he was wrongly following Hard Truth and was trying to locate a drug dealer who had gotten a corporate executive’s child hooked on drugs.

After this, Hard Truth approached Iron Hawk for information about this man and, being an information broker, she found the information and sold it to Hard Truth at a discounted rate, as he is one of her edgerunners, only charging him 750eb for the information. Hard Truth took photos and then burned the documents, as Hard Truth gave the information in document form to avoid an online paper trail. However, at the same time, Plata learned of the murder of the detective from his colleagues, but didn’t know Hard Truth was the one who was responsible, so he started to look into it himself. He looked around, not finding any evidence, so he approached Iron Hawk for information as well. She was hesitant to give it, as she knew it was one of her own edgerunners who had committed the murder, but promises from Plata of an in with the city police force and a persuasion crit of 26 (the DC was 25 because she’s very hard to persuade) meant that she said she would deliver the information, but told Plata that no one could know where the information came from and that she would deliver it to his place of residence in document form.

So, after all of this, the PCs finally got their job. They were to disrupt a deal between the Jackals and Cold Snap, who was selling sex workers. They were also instructed to bring the sex workers and the Jackals’ payment (as it would be in cash) back to Iron Hawk as well, as Iron Hawk was still looking to profit from the run. Plata hung back to hire on some additional firepower, the party choosing to hire a solo named Panther and a runner named Ghost, both fairly pricey, but also fairly skilled. It was amusing to me, as they hired one of the beefiest NPCs at Iron Hawk’s disposal and the weediest, with Panther coming in with Body Type 8 (strong) and Ghost coming in with Body Type 3 (weak).

Crossfire and Hard Truth went to find some information, approaching a prostitute in the general area of the deal and asking for information while visibly counting a few hundred eurobucks. She didn’t know the answers to their question, however I gave her a cool save to see what she would do… and she failed. So she lied. She told the PCs what they wanted to know and, as a class (yes, it is a class in cp2020) that relies on empathy skills, was quite good at lying to the PCs, so they went away believing they had the correct information. The bogus arms deal the prostitute told them about was later confirmed to be bogus information by Iron Hawk, as Crossfire sent it over to her as something of interest, and eventually Plata had to go undercover as a Jackal to find the real information, being a very good cop by mugging someone in the Combat Zone to ingratiate himself to a group of Jackals.

With information in hand and scouting performed, the group felt confident in their preparation and stormed in, with the exception of Hard Truth who had to loop back around after being spotted by one of the people at the trade. They went forward, trying to shoot the driver in one of the vans and shooting the tires. Panther destroyed both front tires on the van in the alley and put a large hole in the engine block, but was then shot at by Acid, a solo hired by Cold Snap to oversee the deal, who got lucky and hit Panther in the left arm and left leg, which were the parts that were out of cover, causing him a large number of wounds. Ghost channeled her inner Assassins Creed and climbed up the building, disappearing from sight for the time being while the rest of the group pushed in. Aspect, the corporate who was there to negotiate the trade for Cold Snap, grabbed one of the sex workers and threatened the player characters that if they didn’t back off she would execute one. The player characters continued pushing in, Plata trying to intimidate her to make her give pause, however Acid intimidated her more and she kept to her threat, shooting the prostitute in the back of the head. By this point, the remaining three were loaded into the van that the Jackals had brought, Acid intimidating the Jackals to let them take the van and rolling a 29 on his skill check. The driver, Omen, then rolled a 35 on his driving check and smashed through the pseudo-blockade presented by the original, disabled minivan that Crossfire and Panther was taking cover behind. Crossfire managed to dodge out of the way, but Panther was not so lucky, taking 3d10 damage, putting him deep into mortal wounds. Crossfire tried to stabilise him, but with his low tech stat and not great first aid skill was unable to hit the rather challenging DC to stabilise Panther.

Hard Truth also slowly made his way back around to the fight, trying to shoot out the tires of the minivan as it sped past, but was unable to hit it due to its speed. Ghost dropped from the rooftop and onto the Jackal who was running away with the money, killing him with her katana before getting shot by another ganger, failing her stun save (as her body type stat was a paltry 3) which kept happening over and over, as every turn a single attack would get through her armour and cause a single wound, triggering another stun save.

In the meantime, Plata had jumped onto the back of the speeding minivan, grabbing onto the doors and trying to rip them open. However, Acid noticed this and maneuvered to the back of the van, opening the door and stabbing Plata twice with his combat knife, causing Plata to go into mortal wounds. Stun saves and death saves were rolled, but Plata failed them, causing him to be clinically dead. Crossfire heard this and ran over, activating Plata’s healthcare plan by manually snapping the card (as he didn’t have an automatic biomonitor that could trigger it and went down before he could manually do it himself, before rushing back to Panther. When he got back, he discovered that Hard Truth had taken a nasty hit to the leg, the bullet going straight through the knee and rendering the leg inoperable (limb loss is a bitch), but Hard Truth was not quite on death’s door yet, having passed the initial death save for the limb loss, but not quite being in mortal wounds. Ghost managed to have a turn where no attack got through her armour and she promptly walked up to the two gangers near her, decapitating one and severing the other one’s leg, killing both. Crossfire picked up Hard Truth and carried him on his back, before performing a feat of strength to also pick up Panther’s now dead body, calling over for Ghost to get the car. She ran back to her car, unlocking it and power sliding into the alley, allowing Crossfire to load Hard Truth and the body of Panther into the back of the pristine car. She drove them to a ripperdoc known as Bonesaw, who also worked for Iron Hawk, who tried to resuscitate Panther but to no avail; Panther was permanently dead. On the other side, a MediCare team dropped into the street and recovered Plata, successfully resuscitating him with the help of their field ambulance and driving him off.

Crossfire reported to Iron Hawk, who docked their pay for failing to retrieve the sex workers, but then used his own pay to facilitate Plata’s medical costs and Hard Truth came to an arrangement with Bonesaw to replace his leg with the new one. The last thing that happened was as Ghost gave Crossfire a ride home, she was stopped at the gate due to her katana not being a “self-defense” weapon and was therefore illegal. She got on the phone, having a brief conversation in Japanese, before handing the phone over to the policeman who was causing the issues and after a brief phone conversation he waved them through.


This session was looooooooooooooooooong. Literally 7 hours long. There were interesting shenanigans and there’s likely going to be some conflict within the group as Hard Truth killed a detective, which Plata is going to learn about once he leaves hospital as the documents will be waiting for him, telling him exactly who murdered the detective…

I enjoyed the session, though I was a little disappointed with the direct, sledgehammer approach to this job. The players were told that there would be multiple parties here and one of those parties would be a rival edgerunning team. Really what they needed to do was turn the Jackals and the rival edgerunners against each other, and then mop up the survivors, or plant seeds of doubt in the Jackals’ minds and then side with them against the edgerunners. Taking the sledgehammer approach was far from optimal and I feel like they paid for it, making no net profit from this run and losing access to the stronger hire-able solo under Iron Hawk’s influence. I’m hoping that in the future they take the threat of rival edgerunner teams a bit more seriously, as Acid, the solo in the rival team, seriously messed the PCs’ team up.

I’m unsure what I will be planning for the next session. I believe it may be the last Cyberpunk 2020 one for now, as my fourth player is back for the week after next so we will be returning to D&D 5e as that game has priority, but I will see about having this as a regular game as well, but will need to check availability with my players. I’m perfectly happy to run two games per week (as I love doing it), but I will see what my players can do too.

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 1

As promised in my last post I ran Cyberpunk 2020 last week, and will at least for the next few weeks due to player absence in my 5e game as working night shifts suck (I feel for you, my dear player). This was the first session of Cyberpunk 2020 with this group, though everyone was at least partially familiar with the system, having played it before. I will start by introducing the PCs:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And the important NPCs who came up this session:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So the PCs were told to meet Iron Hawk in the Combat Zone at a bar within Syndicate territory (who are one of the major gangs of the Combat Zone who operate more like an organised crime outfit) where she would give them the details for their first job. Hard Truth got their first, scoping the place out to make sure The Man wasn’t watching, before making his way inside and taking a seat at a very visible table that had all the entrances and exits in sight. Iron Hawk arrived second, with Plata and Crossfire arriving in quick succession shortly afterwards. Plata immediately shouted over to Hard Truth, asking if he had any drugs and if he was still hooked, to which Hard Truth replied he was over it.

The job details were given, a relatively simple smash and grab. Iron Hawk had an arms shipment coming into the Combat Zone that got hijacked and she wanted it back. She would pay the party 3000eb (eurobucks, the currency in cp2020) to retrieve it and sent them on their way, telling them it was hijacked south of one of the gates into the Combat Zone.

Plata made his way to talk to the police at the gate, which went well as he flashed his cop badge and rolled pretty well on his Authority skill check (the cop’s special ability) to gain information that the cops at the checkpoint had. He got some details as to where it was taken, as well as the plates and information that the hit was not a gang hit, but a more professional hit, implying another group of edgerunners had taken the van. Meanwhile, Hard Truth, being tailed by Crossfire, headed to the nearest bar located near the site of the hijacking. He looked for someone drunk and fumbled his awareness roll, so he found a drunkard… an aggressive drunk. He tried to butter the drunk up while attempting to pick his pocket, trying to steal his money so he could buy the drunk a drink, as he had no money himself, but then fumbled his pick pocket roll as well. A fight broke out between Hard Truth and this aggressive ganger who punched him in the leg (he was drunk and hit locations are amusing), then pushed him over when he failed his stun save. Crossfire ran in to help and grabbed the drunkard after he managed to stomp on the prone Hard Truth, once again hitting the same leg, but another ganger entered the fight, shoving Crossfire and telling him that it was between the two others. Crossfire’s attempts to pass it off that he was Hard Truth’s grandfather failed miserably, but then Hard Truth put on an impressive performance of pretending to be a prostitute, with Crossfire as his pimp, managing to crit the roll. The fight broke up after Crossfire threw the drunkard to the ground, who failed his stun save and was stunned and the bartender told them to get the hell out of there.

Afterwards, they approached a prostitute, paying her money to tell her what she saw on the night the minivan was taken. Shortly after, the PCs met to corroborate facts and eventually called Iron Hawk with the details, who told them it was likely the work of another fixer by the name of Cold Snap. Cold Snap had hired edgerunners to hijack the cargo and had sold it on to a group of junkies in Madhouse territory. She gave them the address and they headed to the location.

Once they arrived, Hard Truth managed to pick the lock on the back door and Crossfire snuck in to stealth kill a dealer who was looking around in the pantry of the house. He then continued upstairs, where he heard music, and proceeded to stealth kill a junkie and shoot another before being found out by the screams of the junkie who survived. The group was quickly swarmed by Madhouse gangers wielding knives and some poor quality firearms. In a feat of Neo-like dodging, both Hard Truth and Plata got caught in a spray of full auto fire from a sten gun wielding ganger. They both fumbled their dodge rolls, but both used a re-roll and both spectacularly crit their rolls, avoiding all of the shots. Plata took down multiple gangers with his .45 automatic and Crossfire fended off more in melee combat, dodging a lot of attacks by a hair’s breadth a lot of the time. Hard Truth fell prey to failed stun saves again, getting shot in the same leg that he had been hit in before, which by this point was getting rather amusing, but eventually the group managed to overcome the gangers. They tried to intimidate the last one down, but he was too out of his mind on drugs to be reasoned with and stabbed Hard Truth (as he was the closest one, but was quickly brought down by Plata.

Top Floor

It got scary at times, but the PCs eventually triumphed against the crazed, drugged up gangers!

 

The group then searched the house, finding the minivan and the full arms shipment, before driving it back to Iron Hawk and getting paid. Battered, bruised and, in Hard Truth’s case, limping a bit from repeated leg abuse, the party went their separate ways to rest, recover and await their next job opportunity.


I really enjoyed running this session and I loved how… dysfunctional the group is. Plata is very aggressive and is constantly berating his team, Hard Truth is a paranoid mess and Crossfire is an old man. It’s great. 10/10, would GM for again. And that I will, as next week will be another Cyberpunk 2020 session again. Need to work out what’s going on for next time, but I’m looking forward to it a lot.

I am definitely more of a natural sci-fi GM than I am a fantasy one. Not saying I don’t enjoy 5e (as I also love that with this group), but sci-fi definitely comes more naturally to me. I think I make better plots and more interesting NPCs in sci-fi games.

I look forward to seeing what unfolds next session!

Things are… looking up(?)

Wowowowowowowowowow.

That’s the best way to describe the past two weeks. I haven’t done a post in three weeks, I know, but it’s been… interesting. I already wrote about how I am no longer a teacher and how I am rather pleased about that due to various reasons that I have already ranted about. However, I also have a new job. This is the wowowowowowowowow part. My friend’s family helped me out and I managed to get a job, a corporate job, where I, for once, can leave the office after my shift is over and not have to worry about work in the slightest until my next shift. The corporate structure suits me way better than the teaching structure did, and I know what I have to do to advance. It’s a lot more logical than teaching where, to move up, you basically have to become a deputy head and then a headteacher. That’s right, I have officially become a wageslave and I love it! I mean, I always have been the corporate type when it came to cyberpunk, after all. Only this is reality, which is less dystopian which means that I might, possibly, maybe… actually have a future.

Speaking of which, I’ve had cyberpunk on the brain lately. I would be lying if I said that my new job had nothing to do with it, the new corporate environment has had my mind wandering during my breaks; “I could turn that into a plot device” and “I could adapt this sort of environment for my fiction” are two thoughts that have been cropping up, as well as the increased awareness of how the modern corporate world works; the insights that this is giving are wonderful and I plan to fully apply my new knowledge to my fiction, and I have definitely been thinking cyberpunk over the past week or two. I have been in a swords and sorcery fantasy mood recently, due to my D&D games being my favourite, however this rather large new development in my life may have tipped me back towards cyberpunk. Inspiration can come from any source!

One game that I have been looking at, continuing on from the cyberpunk feel, is Sindome. Sindome is a multiplayer, text based RPG with an emphasis on RP set in a cyberpunk universe that draws inspiration from cyberpunk heavy hitters, such as Blade Runner, Neuromancer, Total Recall and Judge Dredd. The game takes place in Witmore City, a typical cyberpunk city flooded with inequality, violence and corporate influence. I gave the game mechanics a quick read over and, whilst I do like my 3d interfaces, I felt like I could deal with the text-based system that the game was using. Everything looked fine and dandy… until I realised that your character is always available. When you log out, your character goes to sleep, but time doesn’t freeze. I can see how this would really help immersion, and the generic job system helps to accommodate for that, however this is a real problem for me. Some of you will know that I hate it when I have to live a game, when a game becomes like a job to maintain. I just do not have the time or energy to dedicate in such a way, nor would I want to. For me, this is a massive shame as I really loved the idea of Sindome. I really loved the setting, I loved the aesthetic, I loved the job system, I loved that it didn’t shoehorn me in to playing a certain type of character and that I could be a corp if I really wanted to. I was really looking forward to making my corporate cyber-jockey and fleshing her out, but this singular feature stopped me in my tracks. If I have a busy month of writing, work or other gaming, which is very possible with Overwatch on the horizon, my character’s rent runs down on their apartment or coffin or whatever I have used for them to sleep in, and eventually they get dumped on the street, all whilst you’re working through a busy time at work. I can’t stress how disappointed I am about this, as I would have absolutely loved to give it a shot. Maybe I’ll write something based in Whitmore City as a compromise, as the setting is great and I’d love to have a play around with it.

The other game that I mentioned is Overwatch. In the last few weeks I made the fatal mistake of watching three of the cinematic trailers and the hype train has come into the station. The cinematic trailers, not the gameplay ones, are like Pixar with teeth. They’re incredibly well done and really show case the characters well; albeit only Tracer, Winston, Reaper and Widowmaker (with a bit of Zenyatta, but all he does is get shot!). The cinematics are expertly done and, as I said, it just feels like watching Pixar with teeth. The voice acting could be a little bit better, as a lot of people have slanted Tracer’s voice as annoying, and as an English woman I can verify that nobody speaks like Tracer…) and Widowmaker sounds sort of French, but sort of not; I find it strange, at least. The hype that has built around Overwatch now has grown for me and I’m just glad I only did this a month or so before release, so I only have a month to get through before release. Oh, I cannot wait to play Overwatch. I’ve already decided on five heroes that will be my main ones: Tracer, Mei, D.Va, McCree and Mercy; however I will play all of the heroes at least once. Except maybe Bastion. How can people find Bastion fun to play? All you do is sit in a corner and occasionally left click! I’ll never understand some people…

I’ve been toying with the idea of running a Stars Without Number game, set in my own sci-fi universe too. It would be my first foray into GMing a game, though with the recent developments in my life I am really liking the idea of something cyberpunk. The main problem I have with that is that cyberpunk systems that I’ve seen are Cyberpunk 2020, which is horrendously broken, and Shadowrun which has a load about magic and fantasy races which I wouldn’t be looking at including. I know Cyberpunk 2020 better, but I think Shadowrun with house rules would be better, honestly. It would mean that I would have to learn a new system though, so there’s that. Decisions!

Finally, concerning The Old Republic, I have started to upload some videos to my Youtube channel. Nothing too fancy, just some galactic starfighter gameplay since I saw one of the other pilots that I like doing the same. It’s interesting for me to see a gsf match from another perspective, and it’s really helping me to up my game. Similarly, it’s giving some of the other members of the community a brief look into how I play and I’ve gotten a few pointers from people who are undoubtedly better at the game than me.

It’s been an exciting few weeks for me, and my future is looking up for the first time in at least a year, though really it’s looking better than it has for about three. Onwards and upwards!

A Romantic Evening

((This was something I did to explain what my character was doing in her downtime on Valentine’s Day in the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG campaign I am currently a part of. I play a very corporate mother of two))

I step out into the medical district, new waterproof cybernetics ready and raring to go. The air is thick with smog, even here in the medical district, the pollution filling my lungs as soon as I dare to draw breath in this city. It’s early afternoon, nearing two o’clock, and I haven’t eaten since I took the twins to school this morning. I hop on the next bus to the New Harbour Area and grab myself a quick bite to eat, a ready to eat meal; I’ve given up kibble since the graduation and have started buying better for the family too. Since EBM sent us over here, life has been really shitty. Compared to France, America is a real shit hole. No style, no sophistication and no appreciation of talent.

That being said, that gutter-punk who keeps my baby girl awake and jacked in to the Net has the wrong kind of appreciation for talent. H4lf_J4ck, I think his handle is; some cowboy from Northside. He has no idea what he’s fucking with, and I bet he didn’t even notice the trace I put on his connection or the tap on his messages between my daughter and himself. If I have to give the kid a scare, I will. Infect his deck with some mad virus; no black ICE, I don’t want to flatline the little shit, but enough to keep him away from my daughter. Amandine needs to be kept in check too, come to think about it; constantly out late at night with the punks of Upper Eastside. Both of my girls have pistols and have been trained in the proper and safe methods of using them, I made sure of that personally, but it’s a mother’s job to worry about her children. Night City is not safe at night, there are occurrences that even I would not walk away from in the streets and I wish that my two girls wouldn’t court with disaster so much.

I finish my lunch and take a quick detour through the Mallplex. I recently got paid and waterproofing my sockets was cheaper than I originally thought, so I have some disposable income to treat myself with. I still need to buy a wetsuit, some extra bullets and a few other bits and pieces, but that shouldn’t come to much either. I reckon I’ve earned myself some new clothing. As I make my first circuit through the Mallplex I take out my phone, dialling Julien. He’ll still be at work, but considering he’s an office drone and not some covert corporate operative like me he should be able to answer at work. I call him on his personal number.

“Salut, ma chérie?” Julien answers, though I can hear in his voice that he’s keeping the tone quiet. Perhaps his manager is close. A shame, but I will be brief.

“Salut Julien! Are you free this evening? I’d like to go somewhere nice with you before my next job pops up,” I reply, lips curling into a smile as I pass by a really nice coat. I make a mental note to try it on later.

“Ah, yes. That would be great, but I cannot speak right now. Manager is doing performance reviews so I need to be on point!” Julien responds hurriedly, causing me to chuckle quietly.

“Okay. I’ll speak with you later. Kisses.”

“I love you too,” he responds before I put the phone down. Time for some serious shopping.

I eventually make it out at 6pm, another message from Amandine to say that she won’t be home until late, as usual, and one from Isabelle saying the same sort of thing, on my phone as I wait at the bus stop. I keep the bullets hidden, along with the other ‘abnormal’ items, out of sight, only my various bags of high fashion and business clothing on show as I make my way onto the bus back to Upper Eastside, the area where my small, grimy little apartment is situated. Hopefully by the end of the month I won’t have to put up with this crap any more and I can relocate the family to the Corporate Zone. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I put myself in danger.

I step off the bus and start to make my way home. I cut through an alleyway to get home quicker, as I would like a good amount of time to make myself look my best for the night. As if right on cue, a pair of street punks step out from behind a dumpster. One is armed with a jagged looking switchblade, the other with some sort of heavy pistol.

“Okay lady, we’re going to need to relieve you of your money and all your belongings,” one of them says, a faint sense of giddiness in his tone as he aims his pistol in my direction.

“We caught a good one this time. She looks like she’s got a lot of money,” the other whispered, thinking that I couldn’t hear him. Amateurs.

“Okay, okay. Please don’t hurt me,” I beg in heavily accented English, dropping my shopping to the ground.

“And your purse. Come on, we don’t have all day!”

“Alright, alright. Let me get it for you,” I answer, still with the same panicked expression and tone. I momentarily glance at them. They’re buying the act. Not just amateurs, but morons too. I reach inside my jacket and my combat senses flair to life. Before the two punks can react, I’ve brought my pistol out and around, aiming along the barrel to the pistol wielding one’s chest. Two shots from my silenced HK P9S sends the gin-totting one to the ground as the second one jabs his switchblade towards my gut. I sidestep the thrust, grabbing his wrist and disarming him of his weapon in a brief second. He tries to grab my gun, but I force him to the ground before he can get anywhere near, placing one shot clean through his head as I hold him pinned against the floor. I quickly holster my pistol, scoop up my shopping and make my way out of the alley before anyone can come looking.

“Bon soir,” I say with a smile as I push my way through the front door. Julien is doing some cleaning up, having taken off his suit jacket and tie.

“Bon soir. I see someone has been busy,” Julien replies, turning to me with a wide smile on his face.

“Last job paid fairly well. Saving most of it, but I figured I deserved a little treat.”

“Little?” Julien asks, eyeing my shopping bags.

“It’s all relative,” I answer playfully as he moves closer, planting a gentle kiss on my lips. I trace a finger down his chest. “Miss me?”

“Always. You’re away way more often than I’d like. What’s so important to keep you away from me and our children?”

“You know I can’t tell you. Just trust me, we’ll be better for it in the long run,” I answer, pulling him into a hug.

“I do… Anyway, you should start getting ready. We have a table booked, remember? Even if you refuse to tell me where.”

I grin, quickly plant a kiss on his cheek and weave my way past him. “I know. I’m the one who booked it,” I respond, sending a quick wink his way before getting myself ready for the evening. I sometimes wonder if there are any other netrunners like myself; not from a covert corporate operative standpoint, but from a ‘I am one hell of a charismatic son of a bitch, about to spend the night with my husband, having a romantic meal, worrying about my daughters getting involved with street trash’ angle.

We leave the apartment at about 7:30pm. I drive, as Julien has no idea where we are headed, and I wanted to keep the surprise for as long as possible. On the car journey he asks where we’re heading, but I refuse to tell him. He’s persistent, but I’m an expert on leading people on; for better or worse it’s a talent that I have. I can be a terrible wife sometimes.

We arrive at the restaurant, a fancy place in Charter Hill. We’re far from the only couple and I recognise two others from EBM with their respective partners. We chat, he asks about my next job, I tell him that it’s better that he doesn’t know, as usual. The food is great, especially considering we have been living off of kibble for the past year or so and neither EBM worker comes over to say hello; a blessing in disguise, really. We take a walk around Charter Hill after the meal.

“You say you’re going to be away for a while?” Julien asks me as we round the corner.

“Yes. It’s due to work. You know how it is,” I answer, semi-honestly at least. He turns to me.

“I’m worried. About you and our two girls,” he says suddenly, the worry evident in his features.

“Why?”

“Your work is obviously dangerous, and the girls are always up late.”

I raise an eyebrow. “They’re fifteen, coming up sixteen, Julien. The fact that they’re still in school is a miracle over here in America.”

“It shouldn’t be. Why are we even here? You seem to know more about the situation than me, despite my position in the company.” Of course, Julien out-ranks me within EBM’s corporate structure, but it’s my job to know things.

“The company wants us here. That’s why. I don’t know either, but it’s clear that they don’t want us to know. We don’t need to know, we’re disposable assets to them.”

“I’m sorry,” Julien starts, “but what of the girls? This is a crucial time for them and they need their mother around.”

“This is only temporary, trust me.” I lean in and pull him into a hug. “I hate being away from you and the girls as much as you do. Every time I leave, it hurts more than anything else, but I do it for our future. I don’t want my family to live in some crappy place in a crappy part of town eating crappy food, where every day brings danger in the form of muggers.”

A scratching sound. Speak of the devil. I turn towards the origin of the sound.

“Huh?” Julien looks at me, his worry turning into a look of perplexity, before one of horror as a group of gangers emerge from the alley to our left. My eyes are immediately scanning the environment, looking for the best cover, the best position for me to pull out my pistol and fill these guys with holes.

“All right lovebirds, you’re going to give us your valuables and we’re going to walk away,” the lead gangster almost snarls. A large scar runs down his face, a ravine amongst a desolate wasteland, his skin is cracked and his face malformed. It looks like a really bad attempt at cosmetic surgery. He turns his attention to me and grins. “Well, we might take her with us too.”

Julien steps in front of me. “I don’t think so. You’re going to walk away before I’m forced to do something we’ll both regret.”

The gangsters burst out laughing and I roll my eyes. He’s a corporate worker, so he has to deal with danger and be ready to defend himself but this is not his battlefield. “You against us five? You really think you’re capable of that?”

“You have no idea,” he replies, his voice a rehearsed, smooth tone that seems to unnerve some of the other gangsters in the wings.

“You’ve got balls, drone, I’ll give you that. Maybe I’ll remove them,” he threatens, brandishing a jagged machete. He turns his attention back to me. “Come on sweetheart, I’ll show you what a real man’s balls are like.”

His friends laugh again. I’ve had enough of this shit. I can see that my husband is about to start shooting, having a concealed pistol inside his suit jacket. I can see the gangsters preparing their weapons; one has a chain, the leader has a machete and what looks like a machine pistol at his hip, two have pistols and one has a pair of switchblades.

Once again, my combat instincts kick in. I reach into my suit jacket and pull out my HK P9S, picking out the rifle wielding ganger and firing at him as I dive behind cover. Gunfire erupts from the gangsters, but I can see that Julien has done the same as me, hunkering down behind a wall. I hear the leader shout something at the remaining three, the rifleman now a bloody mess on the floor of the alley. They appear to open fire on Julien, keeping his head down as the gang leader and the one with the switchblades advance on me, the leader firing his machine pistol into the dumpster that I’m hiding behind, keeping me suppressed as well. I wait for the two to emerge and, surely enough, the switchblade wielding gangster emerging first. I grab him and flip him over, throwing him to the ground with a hard thump.

“You’re going to pay, bitch!” the leader yells as he comes as me from behind, grabbing one of my arms and forcing me against the dumpster. I look over to see Julien dispatching one of the two with guns, but the other keeps him busy for the moment. The gangster pushes on my arm again, threatening to dislocate it at the elbow and sending my pistol to the floor. The switchblade wielding gangster makes a grab for my gun, but I hook it with my foot, dragging it away from him before he can pick it up. The gang leader pulls me around and hits me in the face, but my skinweave absorbs most of the blow. I recoil from the hit as he pulls around his machine pistol. I hear the click as he readies the weapon, shortly before unloading a full clip into my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. I fall to the ground to see Julien dispatching the other gang member, turning his attention to me at the sound of the gunfire. A grin, almost proud as he calmly reloads his pistol, drops to one knee and fires through, killing both gang members that were attacking me; he didn’t allow himself to get all emotional until after the fight was over. What a champ.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…” he mumbles as he sprints over to me. I can see that his suit took some bullets, but he doesn’t appear to be bleeding. I give him a thumbs up as he kneels beside me; I’m not bleeding either.

“You’re not the only one who dresses practically,” I say through deep breathing, filling my lungs with air once again. Julien stares at me, puzzled once again before drawing me into a tight hug, so tight that he threatens to wind me once again.

“I thought that was it. I thought you were dead. I heard the gunfire and…”

“Settle down, you’re going to suffocate me,” I mutter, catching my breath once more as he releases me from his grip. “And don’t worry about the girls. Who do you think taught them about fashion, and the importance of spending a bit extra for protective, but good looking clothing.”

Julien picked up my pistol and handed it to me. “You’re security, aren’t you?” he asks as he hands my silenced HK P9S back, laser sight still blinking. I turn off the laser sight and re-holster it beneath my suit jacket.

“Yeah,” I reply. A half truth.

“You could’ve just told me.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.” I look around, getting up to my feet with Julien’s help. “We can have this discussion another time. Cops will be here any minute, and I’d rather spend the rest of Valentine’s Day with you, rather than some angry police officer.

He nods and we leave the scene, getting back to the car. He drives this time, taking us home as soon as possible. Fortunately, police response times tonight are not exactly jaw-dropping and we get away from the scene with no repercussions. When we get home, the girls are absent, as usual. I slip out of my suit jacket, kick off my shoes and walk over to the bed, collapsing on it.

“Nothing like a brush with death to get the blood pumping,” I say with a smile. The adrenaline rush has ended and I find myself rather exhausted. “But also exhausting.”

Julien sits on the other side, before suddenly rolling over, his arms either side of me with a wide grin on his face. “I hope not too exhausting.” He leans in to kiss me, his hand running up the side of my body to the buttons on my shirt. A wave of heat rises through me, flushing my cheeks with red.

“Not too exhausting,” I reply with a grin.

I don’t get much sleep that night. The girls don’t even wake us when they sneak in during the early hours of the morning.

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…

Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Final Thoughts

So, having finished Shadowrun: Hong Kong, I feel as though I should shed some new observations on the game. Now that I have completed the game once, though I will be doing another play through straight away, I must say that my opinions are not as high as they were walking into it for the first time. Please note: there will probably be minor spoilers, though I will stay away from specifics where I can! I’ll start with the good.

The music throughout was very good. Is it better than the Dragonfall or Returns soundtrack? That’s down to individual preference and it fitted the theme and locale very well. That being said, I loved the soundtrack of both the original Shadowrun Returns and Dragonfall, so it’s hard to say which is better, if any. In my opinion, the music in this game is very, very good, but the previous games set a rather high bar to meet. It has at least done that.

Animations and effects also stayed better across the board. Full-auto and burst fire now feel like they really are spraying bullets everywhere with the occasional hit, as it should be. Magic effects are greatly improved from the previous games too, spells like powerbolt and manabolt feel far more magical and less… sparky. The bouncing spell mechanic is good fun as well and makes standing on dragon lines far, far more useful. I had instances where I cast aim on a character and it bounced to the whole crew.

Cybernetics have been greatly improved. Now, you need to take the cybernetics skill in order to take a lot of the more powerful cybernetic options rather than everyone being able to take whatever they want. I like this as it means that you actually need to invest in body and the cybernetics skill if you want to build a chromed up cyber-warrior rather than just every non-mage character taking all the best options. Added to that is the much larger selection of both cyberware and positions to put them, as well as extra essence given from the skill in cybernetics and you can really chrome up to the max!

There are... a lot of extra cybernetic options...

There are… a lot of extra cybernetic options…

Last but most certainly not least, possibly the best change in fact: decking. I just want to scream to the high heavens about how awesome this is. Before it was very simple, you jacked in, did some combat, activated some nodes and then jacked out. Now, when you jack in you are not automatically in combat. Combat-based IC aren’t always present, though there are usually trackers that patrol specific routes that you need to avoid.

Matrix combat is still unavoidable in the later parts of the game and trace can build quickly!

Matrix combat is still unavoidable in the latter parts of the game and trace can build quickly!

There’s a new trace mechanic which will start to increase if any IC detect your presence; while in combat with IC your trace will generally increase by 5 each turn (per IC that sees you), though if a tracker IC sees you it will increase by 20 each turn.

Avoiding tracker IC patrols is the new way to glide through the matrix without any issues

Avoiding tracker IC patrols is the new way to glide through the matrix without any issues

You get to most nodes by hacking blocker IC, which you can either force through at the cost of a large amount of trace, usually around 50+, or you can do a small minigame where you have to remember number patterns to increase your hacking time, then deduce a symbolic password as characters are periodically and very briefly revealed to you.

Sometimes there's a password option too, though most of the time it's either hack or force!

Sometimes there’s a password option too, though most of the time it’s either hack or force!

Because of this, you can largely get by in the matrix on the starting cyberdeck, though I will say now that later in the game the decking parts have actual IC and some brutally difficult tracker IC patrol webs, so don’t expect to be able to hack systems late game with a shoddy cyberdeck. I really, really love what they’ve done with the matrix portions myself; also, the music track for when you’re in the matrix is much better than the previous one. Definitely part of the soundtrack that improves upon the previous.

2015-08-25_00005

You don’t have to do all of the number sequence memorisations. Each successful one gives you more time to work out the password in the next part though.

However, this game definitely has some drawbacks that I would like to visit. Firstly, I’ll go with the temporary one: bugs! As the game is a new release, there are a decent number of bugs which can be really frustrating on a play through of an RPG. There were some that were merely conversational, with NPCs saying silly things, but there were others that hampered my progress through the game. Also, there are typos aplenty. I think I counted at least a dozen on my first play through.

Where's my cyberdeck? Uh... It's right on my back. Are we both blind here?

Where’s my cyberdeck? Uh… It’s right on my back. Are we both blind here?

I also did not like the crew quite as much as the crew from Dragonfall. I got a really good idea of where Dietrich, Eiger and Glory came from and really enjoyed their story arcs and Blitz was comical enough that his otherwise insufferable bravado turned into a bit of comic relief for me. However, I don’t get that same feeling with the current crew. Duncan is your non-blood related brother and comes across fairly hollow. He’s an Ork who grew up with you and had anger management problems, eventually joining Lone Star with your foster-father’s help keeping him on task and under control. I don’t feel that there is a huge amount of depth to his character. Gobbet is one of the more interesting characters, a rat shaman with a special connection to Rat, or so she says, who grew up on a cobbled together raft with a bunch of friends. She’s probably the deepest character and her character arc is certainly the most enjoyable and simultaneously dark one to play through, her voice lines are generally the most enjoyable to read and post-run conversations with her were among my favourite. Is she on par with the Dragonfall crew? Debatable, but at least it’s up there! Is0bel is insufferable for me. It’s fortunate that I often play a decker and didn’t need her that much in this play through because I do not like her character. Anti-social deckers who claim to be the best just aren’t my cup of tea, especially when their background is sort of hollow and you have to ask a different crew member to fill in the details. During her mission you find out what an over-sensitive little brat she really is, though I won’t go into the details as it would most certainly be a spoiler. I do not like Is0bel and I dread my next playthrough when I’ll be running a mage character and will need her on my team. Racter is the other interesting member of the crew, though he falls short when compared to Gobbet and the Dragonfall characters as his personal run is just an optional objective to a run you do anyway. His conversations are interesting and he definitely has mental issues, but that’s part of what makes him interesting. His dialogue is well-written, portraying what he is quite well and he manages to narrowly avoid crossing the line where he becomes insufferable. Finally, there’s Gaichu. He’s interesting to a point and his character is good, but I feel that he might just infringe upon special-snowflake territory. His character mission is short and also brings up some fairly dark themes, but I didn’t find myself as emotionally invested as I did in Gobbet’s. Definitely not the best, but certainly not the worst.

I would also like to highlight the player character and the conversational choices that you are given throughout the game, as this drawback is related to the previous one about your crew. The character you play in this one felt as if I was being shoehorned into a type of character that I do not necessarily wish to be. In Dragonfall any lines of dialogue related to your character’s background were left wide open and there were definitely some varied inferences drawn from the various lines of dialogue, allowing you to role-play as a wide range of characters. In Hong Kong, it’s very black and white; you were a street kid who got taken in by a guy and then left for a job that, three days later, put you in a corporate prison for the rest of your life up until the present. From that point onwards, it always tries to push you into that role of a shady, either gang, thug or shadowrunner criminal type, shunning the megacorporations and the type of life working for one would entail. For example, my character was a very corporate, very businesslike decker who I played through Dragonfall with no issues, however in Hong Kong the same character feels contradictory; there are so many instances where I don’t feel like that type of character is even considered. To me, this was a real disappointment, especially given that there was a very corporate looking elf portrait in the character creator, and was only reinforced throughout the game.

Mega spoilers for Dragonfall and Hong Kong in the paragraph below, as I will now be talking about the ending. Highlight the paragraph to reveal the text and do so knowing that there will be major, major spoilers here. You have been warned!

Suffice to say, I am disappointed. In Dragonfall, you find Vauclair and he talks about his plans and why he’s doing what he’s doing; he sees the dragons as manipulative and controlling and wishes to get rid of them through a biological weapon that only hurts dragons. You can, through dialogue options, talk him out of it, fight against him or even join up with him! It was a really well done sequence of dialogue and Vauclair was a great antagonist for the game; he honestly believed that what he was doing was right and for the good of the planet. Siding with him doesn’t seem like an utterly moronic idea and I did do a game where I ended up siding with him, bringing about the near extinction of metahumanity due to the dragons being responsible for keeping some eldritch horrors at bay. All through the game, however, there are hints as to this consequence, especially if you play a mage or shaman and frequently speak to Absynthe and Aljernon, and you can use this as ammunition to talk Vauclair out of it, where he realises what a blind fool he has been. In Hong Kong, however, the choice felt really stupid. You track down Qian Ya and fight her twice before she offers you a deal where you can leave and let her have the Walled City in exchange for fourteen years of good fortune, or you keep fighting and eventually shut her out. There was no real reason to accept her deal, there was no feeling of “this is a good idea” when contemplating it, unlike Vauclair who put up a very good argument for his cause. If I missed something, it must have been due to a bug because I frequently spoke to Crafty and had enough points in conjuring to cast simple buffs and perceive things on the astral plane. I read through all of her notes and made sure to pay attention to everything about the Yama Kings, but nothing seemed that relevant. I’ve heard that you can avoid some fights through conversation options, but I did not see them. However, that is not the point I wish to make. The point is that the end of the game falls flat. There is no real reason to make a deal with the demon-goddess unless your character has large amounts of selfishness and stupidity and this disappointed me after the build up was very good and Dragonfall’s ending being so solid.

Overall, would I recommend Shadowrun: Hong Kong? Yes. It’s still a solid game with a good story and decent enough characters. However, I am a little disappointed overall. I enjoy the game and have already started playing through it a second time, though looking at it as a whole I would say that it simultaneously took steps forwards and backwards.

Character Genning Mood

So, I’m in a Cyberpunk 2020 game every week and, whilst the slightly over-the-top 80s style of it isn’t my exact cup of tea, I’m enjoying it thoroughly and I love my flirty Italian Netrunner so much (she got her first kill -ever- last session. It was a learning experience).

But in case she is hospitalised or killed (hopefully not!), I will need a back up character. So I thought to myself, what sort of character am I going to play…

Inspired from one of my own characters in my own cyberpunk setting, though with modifications to fit the Cyberpunk 2020 setting and rules, I decided that a possibility is that I may go for a burned corporate operative.

Note: I haven’t proof read this. It’s coming up 3am. I need to go to bed. Badly. It’s going to get light soon and I’m a light sleeper. This is bad on so many levels, but I had to at least finish!


Nobody is safe. A message comes through to my mobile phone, a contract. Corporate worker, supposedly leaked company secrets to a rival. I don’t fucking care, they tell me to ice this guy, I ice this guy. There are no questions, no arguments; this is just how the corporate world works.

Nobody is safe.

I pocket my phone inside my jacket pocket, I wear business attire, though my clothing is threaded with kevlar. My line of work is dangerous, though I must also keep a professional appearance in the office. Corporate security is no different in that regard. We all abide by the same dress code. Inside my jacket I feel the grooves of my heavy pistol. Colt. AMT Model 2000 with armour piercing bullets. There’s enough firepower tucked under my arm to dent even the heaviest personal armour; whoever this guy is, I could probably ice this guy through a solid wall.

I trawl through our databases and find this poor bastard’s address. He lives in an apartment in the corporate zone, the building is owned by us so getting into the block shouldn’t be a problem. There will be a maglock on his door, though it’s nothing I can’t crack. This is all routine by now; if all fails, I can probably blast my way in with this hand cannon I’m sporting.

I grab my motorcycle keys and make my way to the parking garage. It’s night by now, but my work often comes in after hours, so I am no stranger to it. I put on my helmet, start her up and drive towards the block where the target lives. I park up, take off my helmet and walk through the front door. The building security are expecting me and let me in. If this keeps up, I should get home in time to see my fiancé. With a grin on my face I make my way up to the target’s apartment and get to work on the keypad.

It doesn’t take long for me to crack it and I’m in. I open the door…

WHAM!

Something hits me in the face. Felt like a rifle butt. My training kicks in and I pull my pistol, firing two shots directly in front of me. Apparently whoever ambushed me wasn’t expecting that. I see the figure, heavily armoured, stagger backwards, one hole in his stomach and one in the middle of his chest. He looks at me through his helmet’s visor and collapses to the floor, blood staining the carpet. There’s a rather effeminate scream that emanates from the target, a wiry man in a business suit. He runs into the bathroom and a second armoured figure raises a sub-machine gun and fires on full auto. I manage to avoid most of the bullets, but a sharp pain digs into my side as one wings me. Fuckers are using armour piercing ammo too.

I place a hand over the wound, blood seeping into my suit and staining my white shirt. I swing around the corner as his shooting ceases; full auto fire isn’t sustainable and I catch him reloading. I raise my pistol and fire. One bullet, straight through the visor and out the back of his head, the contents of his skull spraying against the far wall. I’m about to finish the job when I hear footsteps behind me.

“Security! Drop your weapon!” I hear from behind me. I calmly turn, hold my hands out with a friendly smile.

“I’m with the corp. They want this guy iced.”

The bastards don’t ask again. I see fingers moving for the triggers so I dart to the side, running down the corridor.

“Don’t let her escape!” I hear from behind me, a hail of gunshots forcing me to turn another corner. Fortunately, the stairs are not far and I start a rapid descent. Fortunately, these security are a different wing to our own. These guys are the amateur league by comparison.

I shoot my way through the lobby and get back to my bike. It doesn’t take long to start her up and get out of there. Someone’s after my position, or doesn’t want me taking theirs. The whole thing stinks of set-up. I need to get home. I need to tell my fiancé. We need to get the fuck out of here.

I get home and bust through the door, gun out and ready. I walk into the living room to a scene of horror. My fiancé. His corpse lies face down in a pool of blood, a gaping whole in the side of his head. I am transfixed by the scene, horror etched into my features. I notice a hand in the corner of my eye. I swing around, gun towards this new threat. Too late. My gun flies from my grip and a powerful blow connects with my arm as I block the attack. Crude. Clubs. I grab my attacker’s leading arm and pull him in closer, my knee slamming into his nose with a squelching sound. I flip him over and turn to the next threat. This one has a sword, a freakin’ monokatana. I dodge out of the way of the woman’s swings. She’s fast, but not fast enough. I am about to counter attack when my left arm is grabbed. I swing my fist into the man’s face, sending him reeling backwards, but it’s too late.

The monokatana slices clean through my left arm, severing it just below the shoulder. I scream in pain and stagger backwards. A signal goes out over the net. Trauma Team. Like it will make a difference. I feel another sharp pain as the woman shoves the monokatana through my abdomen. Everything seems to fade. The pain of the solid impacts from the clubs fade to nothing. The woman removes her monokatana from my stomach and I fall to the floor.

Nobody is safe.

I wake up to a faint beeping. My vision is blurry, but I’m in a white room. There is no pain. Am I dead? No. Hospital. The smell of medical drugs is thick in the air. I try to move. I feel groggy. A nurse walks in.

“What happened?” I manage to ask her.

“We pulled you from your house. The left arm is a replacement job; woman around your size came in for cybernetics about a week ago and sold us her original arm to help cover the costs. You’ll have to train it a little, but we think your body should adapt and accept it within a few days.

She pauses. “We managed to save you, but we couldn’t save the other.”

“My fiancé?”

She shook her head. “He was dead long before we got there. No, I mean…”

She looks me in the eyes. The situation doesn’t need words. Not any more. I had a feeling, but… Fuck it. Fuck it all…

I need to get out of here.

I wait for the nurse to leave before I stumble from my hospital bed and manage to sneak my way to the elevator. I almost fall on top of an older man in the elevator as I slam the garage button. He looks at me, though his features are all a blur to me. He gets out at the ground floor. I descend further. The parking garage is largely empty, but I look around for a cheap looking car. With my current condition I don’t think I could break into or hotwire a more expensive model. I settle on a slightly rusting sedan. I get in. I start to drive as the blurriness subsides, albeit only partially. I drive back to my house to find it taped off. Corporate investigation. I avoid driving too close. My bike is parked around the corner. I crack the locking mechanism, a subtle trick I installed for situations like this. I grab my belongings, my phone, a couple thousand in cash, some basic cosmetics, a small holdout pistol. An emergency stash I kept under my bike seat.

I hop back in the car and make my way towards a small medical clinic on the outskirts of the city. Outside of major corporate influence. I walk in and go to the receptionist.

“I need you to set me up with some cyberware and I want it off the record. I’ve got the money. Cash.”

“Please, take a seat and someone will be with you,” the receptionist replies. I nod and take a seat.

A few days of living in the shadows, surviving in the streets of the outskirts of Paris later and I’m on a smuggler ship. I’m headed to America. My former employers do not have as much pull over there as they do in Europe. Then again…

Nobody is safe.

Work Never Ends (Very Short Story)

The music of the club thumps through my ears; heavy, bass-ridden beats pound against my chest like an external heartbeat. Rhythmic. Powerful. I’m dancing amidst a mess of bodies, enslaved by the beat of the music. The air is stale, the smell of synthetic tobacco mingling with sweat, perfume and, if one had a sharp enough sense of smell, a mild mix of chemicals and pheromones. 2084 in the London night life and not much had changed; the reasons, the approaches, these were all the same, but the only thing that had changed were the methods.

The atmosphere is intoxicating. Literally intoxicating. The owners of the club had spared no expense in appealing to every sense. Chemicals course through my body, emphasising every sense, whilst my brain is re-wired to feel nothing but enjoyment. Nothing but pleasure. Even with my implants filtering out the chemicals it’s noticeable. I can feel myself letting go. I can feel the current lifting me, taking me on a sensual journey; I can feel it fuelling the ignorance.

I need to get this done, I think to myself. I am here to work. If I was not on a job I would not even be here. The excess is truly disgusting. I scan through the club, one of the few people wearing such mirror-shades indoors, in the dark, strobe laced night club. My target is employee number seven-three-oh-five-four-two of MatsuTech. An accountant, I believe. My employers were very specific in their instruction.

I lock onto his bio-signature. An eighty seven percent match, which increases to ninety eight once I filter out the chemicals in his system. It’s him.

I move in closer, navigating my way through the mass of intoxicated shells. The chemicals will work wonderfully if I can get this done without succumbing myself.

My heart rate has quickened. The ball has started rolling.

I move behind him, one hand wrapping under his arm and onto his chest with a gentle caress. I can feel his heart rate now. He’s completely gone. Perfect. I move to the music with him whilst I pull out my cyberdeck. A compact TyrCorp, model number three-seven-four-two, that attaches nicely to my forearm. Not the most powerful of decks, but the one of the most concealable. With a slight flick of the wrist I lock the deck onto my forearm and move my free hand up. The jack is in my hand. I can see the data port on the back of his neck.

Natural. All natural, I muse as I plug the data jack into the port on the back of his neck and deliberately move my hand down his back and onto his side as we continue swaying to the music together. I take a brief look around. Security has no idea.

I flick a switch and I’m in. The club melts around me, the people disappear and are replaced with the grey expanse of the systems in my target’s head. My avatar in this world is much the same as my outer shell. I have no qualms about my appearance.

The implant is a standard MatsuTech employee level storage device. Inferior to my own, but it follows the same basic architecture so I effortlessly glide to the data storage nodes, my avatar floating through cyberspace like a fish through water. The node itself is encrypted, but the protection is our own software. Software that I was trained to use; trained to crack.

It’s a simple task, overloading such a device. There are specific ports, specific data points to flood to cause the encryption to crash. A minute flaw in the system and a closely guarded secret. No doubt there are street hackers who also know this, but our employees tend not to store anything valuable in their implant, so the risk is minimal. Also, this is what happens when they do store important data. Data they should not store in personal storage implants.

So I’m in without breaking a virtual sweat. At this point it’s routine for me; firstly I need to ensure that there have been no attempts to access the files prior to my intrusion. I can quickly discern that he has accessed the files himself, but only for personal viewing. There are no traces of file transfers. In fact, he has not performed any transfers of any kind since he lifted this data. Smart, but obviously he’s not smart enough. Next I take the files and put them onto my own implant, a short transfer normally but such a file is protected. Whilst I am confident in my abilities to simply overpower any security systems that may respond, I am a professional agent, not some hot-headed street hacker. I stream the transfer between my own implant and his, exchanging data packets almost instantaneously, replacing the stolen MatsuTech files with non-essential reports and excessive paperwork, all laced with a dormant virus. Either his contacts that he was likely planning to sell this information to will detect the virus and off him, or they won’t and there’s wonderful potential for sabotage at the corporate or street level, either would serve our interests.

The transfer finishes and a security switch trips. I did everything perfectly, to the letter, handling a device that I know like the back of my hand; this should not have happened. I do not know why or what has tripped, but something has; things are changing subtly. Regardless, my work is done, there is no point in dwelling on it. I jack out.

No more than two seconds have passed in realspace by the time I am returned to my body. I quickly unplug from the back of his neck and slide my deck from my arm and into my pocket, a fluid motion as to not attract attention of surrounding clubbers or security staff.

Folly, really, considering the man turns to face me, a look of horror in his eyes visible even through his chemical-laced haze. Of course he recognises who I am, or rather what I am, and of course he recognises what I have done. He opens his mouth and starts screaming and pointing, fearfully pushing his way through the crowd. I am not about to start a fight in the middle of a nightclub in Neo-London. Not even a MatsuTech security agent can get away with that. Nightclubs are hives of street soldiers, hackers, roboticists and other lowlife scum. I am the outsider here. I am the one in danger.

I barge through the crowd towards the fire escape as I notice security starting to mobilise. By the time I reach the door there are no doubts and an automatic firearm opens up, spraying the side of the door with bullets. I shove down the bar to open it and ram it open, rounding the corner onto the fire escape as another burst escapes the door. Whilst the lowlife types inside would not openly start shooting, the security staff had no such qualms; especially knowing that I’m a corp.

I leap over the railing, dropping two stories onto the back of a truck with a heavy thud, cybernetics in my legs absorbing a lot of the impact. Regardless, I roll as I land and drop off the side of the truck. Another burst of gunfire is heard overhead, raking up my back and sending me stumbling forwards. At this range however, 9mm will not get through my under-armour, let alone both my coat, which is constructed to be resistant to pistol calibres up to fifteen metres away, and my under-armour which, when combined with the coat, can stop smaller rifle calibres at thirty metres. I run the numbers in my head and there’s no way they’re getting through.

Nevertheless, I do not stop. Whilst I may be fine if they hit my body or maybe my legs, my head remains totally exposed. I run towards the road behind the club, either they will have to exit through the fire escape as I did, or exit through the main entrance and make their way around. This should at least buy me enough time to do what I need to.

As I reach the road I slow into a calm, yet brisk walk. I make my way around the corner and onto the adjacent street, walking straight up to a taxi rank. I walk up to the front taxi, the driver casually chatting to another, though as he recognises that I require his services he makes his way over to the car and motions me towards the passenger side before getting in the driver’s side himself. I tell him my destination, which he makes a snide comment to on the basis that it is an expensive area, and sink into the chair. When we arrive I simply place my hand over the small payment terminal on the dashboard and transfer the fare through my identity implant in my hand. I make no comment about the loose change that I noticed hidden beneath the driver’s seat and get out with a smile and a thank you. If this man sympathised with lowlifers, he would likely not take too kindly to ferrying a corporate agent to her doorstep. Well, near enough; I directed him a few blocks away just in case and walked the rest of the way. Neo-London was cold at this time of the year and I place my hands in my pockets as I walk, my breath coalescing into small clouds as I walk down the quiet, residential streets.

I reach my front door and walk in to the dull, muffled sound of music and television mixing into one unpleasant sound. I remove my boots by the front door and hang my coat on the hat stand, grimacing as I notice the holes and impacts across the back, and walk into the living room where John, my husband, sits with his computer on his lap and the television on, Sky News providing ambient noise as he fervently types at his keyboard.

“Evening,” I greet hopefully.

“Evening,” he replies with a bored, slightly apathetic tone. I guess that is better than what I was expecting, considering we were meant to be meeting another couple for dinner tonight and I had to cancel literally four hours before we were meant to be there. “I put the children to bed, but Izzy is being Izzy.”

“I’ll go talk to her,” I reply in English this time, back-pedalling slowly out of the room and making my way up the stairs, following the sounds of electronic music. I knock.

“Yeah?” Isabelle answers through the door.

“Can I come in?”

She opens the door and wheels her chair back to her desk. I walk in and sit on the end of the bed.

“So, you’re still up and it’s a school night,” I muse, looking at the back of her head.

“You were out clubbing and it’s a work night.”

I sometimes hate the fact that anyone could see from a mile away that Isabelle is my daughter. Her investigatory skills are impressive. I chuckle. “Point taken, but I was out clubbing for work reasons.”

“And I’m still awake for work reasons,” she gestures at the screen of her computer. Financial data, trends, theories. “I’ll be up and ready for school in six hours, don’t worry.”

“I’m your mother, worrying about you is my job.” I usher her over and she wheels her chair towards where I sit. She has my face and hair, but her father’s eyes for sure, little emeralds amidst her fair skin tone. I shift over and pat the bed next to me. She rolls her eyes and moves from her chair to the position next to me and I wrap her in a tight hug. “Listen, I know yo-…”

I get mid sentence when all the lights go out. Her computer goes dead. I reach for my gun, still holstered under my arm. Work never ends. I have yet to explain this to the children.


This is the story that I submitted to the BBC, but alas it was not chosen. Onto the next submission, I guess!