Star Punk Dreams, Part 4

“The pain in the index finger of his right hand was especially strong.  This didn’t make any sense – his index finger was the cheapest cybernetic finger available, and had never included nerve features like the ability to feel pain.”  – Junichi Fujisaku, “Double Targets”

Yin took a sip of bottled water and then poured the rest on Charlene’s face.  Charlene sputtered, gasped and opened her eyes.  “Where are we?” she asked.

“We’re in a mechanical closet in a service tunnel” Yin replied.  “How do you feel?”

“Terrible, leg throbbing with pain, exhausted.  I want to go to sleep.”

“You can’t do that – I need you awake so I can tell if you start to go into shock” said Yin.  “I’ve cleaned the wound best I could with what we have, the bullet is still in there, I can’t tell if it has impacted the bone or not.”  Yin’s summation was interrupted by a loud roar, the closet seemed to shake.

“What’s that?” asked Charlene.

Yin smiled and replied “That would be the first train of the day.  Does your company have a contract with anybody for EMS services?”

“Only if the job includes an extraction team, this one didn’t.  Why am I half naked?” Charlene asked.

“So, we can blend in with morning commuters – I found an old tool bag, missing all the tools of course.  I put your rifle, helmet and as much of your armor in the bag as I could.  Besides, a tank top will be much less suspicious than an armored jacket.  We’re still close enough to Huitai’s arcology that security guards and cops will be thick as flies.  Our first order of business is to get you some medical attention.”  Yin pulled out her phone and began texting.  “Crap, can’t get a signal down here, how about you?”

“We aren’t allowed to take our phones on missions, how did you get to keep yours?” Charlene asked.

“Don’t know, guess Rolfe was so pissed at seeing me that it slipped his mind.  He wouldn’t have gotten it anyway.  I guess we’re going to have to get to a station platform to get a decent signal” replied Yin.  Yin stood up, picked up the tool bag and then helped Charlene up off the floor.

Charlene noticed Yin’s pistol.  “What about your pistol?  Won’t that raise suspicion?”

“With you leaning against me on that side, most people won’t even see it – and if they do, they’ll just think I’m some low-life ganger they don’t want to get involved with” answered Yin.

It seemed as though it took forever to move through the tunnels, but it actually took half an hour to pass through the service tunnel, find a main tunnel, wait for a train to pass by so they knew in what direction to find the station and finally climb upon the platform.  There weren’t as many cops milling about as Yin thought there would be.  Yin sent off a few texts.

“Well, we’re in luck” said Yin, “a splicer I know says there’s a med tech a couple of stops from here that can be trusted.”

“That’s great, I don’t know how much longer I can stay conscious.  Any news on the team?”

“Coms are still out, but you know that.  I sent a text to Margo, but no reply, yet” said Yin.

“Well, they’re probably being debriefed if they made it out.”

“Yeah, if they made it out” added Yin.

It was still a good hour before rush hour would officially start, but the platform already had a good sized crowd.  Yin held Charlene close to her side and true to her words, no one noticed the pistol, not even the cops working the platform.  The train they needed arrived in no time.  Though the doors of each car were thronged by people, no one was pushing or shoving.  All the seats were taken.  The doors chimed and closed.  There was a pre-recorded message with the name of the next stop and then the train began.  A middle-aged woman scrutinized Yin and Charlene, she elbowed the man sitting beside her reading his tablet, “Harold, get up and let this girl have your seat, she doesn’t look well.”

He folded his tablet, put it in his coat pocket and stood up.  “I’m so sorry I did not notice earlier” he said motioning to Charlene to take his seat.

Yin helped Charlene into the seat, Charlene gave a little moan.  “What’s wrong with her?” asked the woman.

Yin grinned, “Just a little lead poisoning.”

“Lead poisoning?  You can still get that?  I thought they took lead out of everything.  Oh, the poor dear.  How did she get it?” the woman asked.

“She was in a place where there was lead in the air” replied Yin stifling the urge to laugh.  She noticed the man rolled his eyes.

It was then that the woman noticed Yin’s pistol, she pointed at it and asked, “Are you a policewoman?”

“No,” replied Yin, “but I do work with security.”

The woman seemed satisfied and fawned over Charlene until they reached their stop.  The man assisted Yin in helping Charlene to stand.  Yin thanked them profusely.

There was only one policeman on the platform, a good sign they were outside of any perimeter Huitai had set up.  Yin walked across the platform supporting Charlene who could barely manage to limp.  On the escalator up to the street level, Charlene said, “Loong Yin, that was some cheesy bullshit you laid on that lady.”

Yin laughed, “Well, I’ve learned it disturbs the norms, normal people, when we interject our reality into theirs – if the master is correct in that reality is an illusion, then why mess up their illusion with mine?”

“That sounds deep, is that Buddhist or Neo-Taoist?” asked Charlene.

“Don’t really know” replied Yin, “I read it in a pamphlet somewhere.  I can only hope my reality is an illusion, because it sure does suck.”

The dark shadowed street showed little sign of daylight; it would be several hours before the sun would be high enough to cast its light over the buildings.  Yet, the smells on the street, especially fresh food and coffee, announced a new morning.  Yin paused and looked at her phone to make sure she had the correct directions.  There was always crime on the streets at all hours of the day, there was just much less of it near the arcologies of the mega-corporations.  The homeless were on the move, they had already been rousted by cops and shopkeepers to get off the streets.  As they moved to wherever they spent the day out of sight of the norms, they were at their most vulnerable – prey to the gangers who shook them down for what little food or money they had.

“Yo, momma!  What’su doin’?  Y’all party too hard last night?”  There were four of them on Yin’s left, leaning against a building.  The one speaking was a tall wiry young man barely twenty, if that.  Yin ignored them and kept walking; her focus was on getting Charlene medical treatment.

“Whoo, J.J. she igorin’ you” said one as they began trailing Yin and Charlene.

The one called J.J. ran up and planted himself directly in front of Yin causing her to stop.  “That right, bitch?  You ignorin’ me like I’m some piece of shit?”

“Back off, shabi,” Yin snarled, “get out of the way and show some respect.”

“What you say, bitch?” asked J.J. as he flipped open a switch-blade.

“Damn, J.J., she call you an ‘idiot’ in a nasty way” said another who stepped beside J.J.

“Shit, she’s packing’” said the only smart one in the bunch, “let’s get out of here.”

J.J. didn’t listen, he lunged at Yin, Yin let Charlene drop, she caught J.J.’s wrist and gave his arm a twist.  The arm twisted away from J.J.’s body not only rendered his knife useless, but it exposed him to Yin’s countermove.  Yin flexed the palm of her right hand and five blades shot out from under her fingernails.  With a flick of her wrist, she slit his throat, nearly severing his head from his body.  She let go of his wrist and he fell gurgling to the ground, his body beginning to spasm in its death throes.

A second one came at Yin.  She kicked him hard in the groin and as he doubled over, she kicked his face snapping his head back.  The third one stared wide-eyed at her as his face filled with terror.  He turned and ran after the smart one, who was already half a block away.

Yin flicked the blood off her blades and retracted them back into her fingers.  She extended her hand to Charlene. “You really are a street samurai,” said Charlene, “count me impressed.”

“Not ‘samurai’,” said Yin, “samurai is Japanese, I’m ‘zhanshi’, Chinese.”

“Means the same doesn’t it?” Charlene asked.

Yin shrugged her shoulders and picked up Charlene into a fireman’s carry.  “We can’t waste anymore time, it’s not far to the med tech.”

It was tempting to use the clinic’s front entrance but using the front entrance or even the emergency entrance would attract too much attention.  Yin found the back door near a dumpster and rang the bell.  The man who opened the back door was wearing blue hospital scrubs.  “Hi,” said Yin, “I texted earlier.”

“Bullet wound?” he asked.  Yin nodded.  “Bring her in.”

The Game

So far my character has played two Encounters.  If you are playing a strict 5150: No Limits campaign, the Job Offer in part one was the Involuntary Encounter played the 1st of each month.  By accepting the Job Offer, the Escort Job automatically became the Voluntary Encounter for the month.  As a plot twist, I folded the Escort Encounter into a Raid Encounter.  These were played in parts two and three.

I could have paused the story there and pick it up again with an Involuntary Encounter for the next month.  Instead, I kept the cameras rolling, so to speak, with a Travel Encounter.  This type of Encounter appeared in 5150 New Beginnings, Urban Renewal (sadly out of print, it’s one of my favorite games) where your character has to use the light rail transit system of New Hope City and while in transit the character could have a robbery, a confrontation or even an arrest.  What it did was to help advance the story between the main Encounters.

In this case, my character interacted with other characters while on the subway and was involved in a robbery attempt.  A Travel Encounter is completely optional and not required to play a 5150 No Limits Campaign.

One of the advantages of doing a Travel Encounter is that it allows me to flesh out the character a little more and helps me show what kind of world she lives in.  I’m finding that she isn’t just a wild child playing at being at being a street operative, but that she is finding there’s a code that she strives to live by.

As always, your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

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