You are about to meet a user of this world known as Salmon. He has just returned home after many years to his street samurai clan in Durik City. He has returned home for many reasons, but it can be certain, those reasons are going to be nothing when the real truth comes to light.
The Reaver Publishing Collective proudly presents to you:
Room: CGMF Air Assault Base, Cafeteria
Room Setting: Out of Character Discussion
Oh. Hey. Didn't notice you enter.
Don't you have your console set to ping when people come into the room?
Laughs No. Sorry. I try to stay as immersed in this place as possible.
Uh, sure. Go ahead.
So... You're new to this server right?
Nah. New to the game though.
Yeah... Me too.
Heh. Wouldn't have been able to guess.
What do you mean?
It's just, I dunno. We're in the same unit. I've seen you around
Laughs Yeah. I guess that's true.
So, where are you from?
In meatspace I mean.
Oh. Um. I'm in Durik City State.
The Confederacy of Gaia?
There's a lot of Gaians on this game. Makes sense I guess. Just
Hell, I didn't even pick up on your accent.
Laughs I guess that means the voice mod I installed is working.
Oh. Shit, I didn't even realize-
It's fine. Laughs
Yeah. So, how could I hear your real voice then?
I dunno. I have to log anyways. Maybe we'll do a chat someday.
Yeah. I'd like that.
Laughs Yeah, me too.
You happy? You got to peek in on my first real conversation with my soon-to-be ex-wife. Fruk. I told you I wasn't ready for that. Gods know I'm not fruking happy. That was not something I wanted to relive before having to go do what I have to do. Running back here, looking up a girl I once had a thing for because of the shit she was carrying. Nah, man. This is not how I wanted to come home. Not at fruking all.
But I'm a street samurai.
Blue Katana for life.
The Shogun had given me a mission at the party along with a heap of bad news. The mission was tied right into the bad news, so this is what I know: A sweet uptown girl named Jinny Mackavelli, of the Mackavelli mafia family, went missing. I had a summer romance with her a few years back. Plenty of orange skied summer nights in the city spent rolling around, making love and making sweet talk. Smoking tradthantine, falling into each other on a park bench in a sanctuary of manufactured nature in her father's green house surrounded by exotic flora from the Tru'lee archipelago. Her slumming it with me in my hood, hitting up the bohemian tech-jazz clubs, drinking scotch and making out to the soft glows of the music and low-impact lights.
Her red lips parting in bliss as she leaned up to kiss the roof of her car.
“Salmon,” he'd said, his low toned voice dripping with augmentic subsonics to instill a primal sense of dread, “ you remember Jinny Mackavelli.”
The music from the party thumped below.
The Shogun's blue LED eyes gleamed, and his huge frame stalked around the room like a highland lion. He always had fruking walked like that. Scared the shit out of me.
“Yes. Like a fish going upstream to breed, you went uptown to fruk.”
“Yeah? What about her?” I said, not liking his tone.
The Shogun's face got set into an almost animated expression of grief.
My heart held still as a frozen operating system.
“What?” I choked out.
“Jinny's been missing for the past-” he paused as he consulted an internal clock display “-sixty seven hours.”
I took a deep breath to keep a semblance of calm and machismo.
If my voice hadn't have cracked when I said the words “old fling”, I could have been a gunslinger from a Colonial era holo-vid.
The Shogun's face changed again. All business.
“Yes. You see, your contact with Jinny was our main lifeline to the Mackavelli family.”
“No shit.” I shot at him.
He shot me a glare back.
He continued, keeping his haunting blue gaze on me, “We need to keep that lifeline, Sal. The clan needs that lifeline. Don Mackavelli has requested you personally.”
I scoffed. “I thought he didn't like me much.”
I had to admit he had a point, . Without my close proximity to the Don as an uptown ambassador I'd have never met Jinny. If I had have pissed the Don off by flinging around with his precious only daughter, I doubt I could have been able to broker the pill deal the way I did.
“But why me?”
“I do not know, but we must have faith in our allies, Salmon.”
I thought back to the VH Wars and how many times the Vannie government had said that on propaganda videos while the C-Fed bombs were falling, people were starving, death squads were roaming the streets and they were still waiting for a Klerian invasion force. Vain hope in the face of apocalypse. Allies tended to be overrated in my opinion.
I bit my tongue.
He stared at me expectantly.
Pushing against the very animal instinct I felt in my gut that's only akin to the fear a small rodent feels when being pulled into a pool of quicksand, I said:
The Shogun had smiled grotesquely at me.
I could still see his adamantine teeth as I rode the D-Train up to the rich part of town. The painfully bright white lights of the train car glared at me like damning angels, just as much as the fully armed military policeman on duty did. I wasn't wearing my bandanna or anything. Just a plain black suit jacket and gray slacks. The shoes were auto-molded to my feet, but they weren't cheap. The whole ensemble wasn't cheap; borrowed from The Shogun. Regardless, I still had my dreads up in a top knot and reflector HUD sunglasses on. The guard knew I was a street samurai, or at least with my dress, a corporate samurai.
We weren't the most trusted people in the world.
I turned my head to the MP and grinned, staring hard at him from behind my shades.
He shifted uneasily, his face suddenly seeming too young to be wearing a uniform.
He was just inexperienced. He'd never had to face a blazing barrel or a humming electro-blade held to his throat. He'd probably never seen a friend die before his very eyes, his blood pooling around his screaming body on an uncaring city's plascrete street. The bastard was probably no older than I was. Not many of the MP's he'd seen since his return had been. Seemed that the C-Feds were still recruiting fresh faced kids into the army with no trouble. Plenty of kids wanted out of whatever shitty ass situation they were in, whether they were from West Ba'rrit's farms or from the slums of Gaemiria City. The military would always have fodder for their wars.
I leaned back in my seat and sighed, trying to cut the coming political train of thought off.
Glancing out the window at the smears of orange city lights, I took a deep meditative breath and tried to think. Tried to wonder where Jinny could be out in the sprawling little slice of hell we both called home. Where she may be sitting around, smoking cigarettes with some classy group of girlfriends he'd never felt up to meeting. Her raven hair being brushed out of her face by her slender hands, laughing about how she had just pulled a fast one on her old-man, and how he must have half of his enforcers out looking for her.
The orange gleam of Durik was swallowed by the black mouth of a tunnel.
It'd been seventy-two hours.
She was probably dead.
I took a deep breath again and gulped down the rising fear. I'd already lost my wife, by less vicious means of course, but fruk. The thought of losing two of the women in my life in as many months made my gut feel as if I had been jacked in too long and had started retching with OutJack disease. Jinny had been a great, but lighthearted, part of my life. It had never gotten to the point that my wife and I had gotten to, sure, but it was a time I'd cherished. Probably because it seemed like the country was burning down around us.
She was just as interested in politics as I was at that time; almost not at all. Any conversations we did have were definitely filed under the “adolescents trying to make sense of the world” category, if it could be filed under politics at all. They were mostly half baked ideas, and when the C-Fed forces invaded Durik finally, her father had sent her to stay with family in the Briss, and I was knee deep in the Black Net and all the techno-cloak-and-dagger bullshit that went along with it.
Jinny wasn't a stranger to cloak-and-dagger bullshit, to be fair, but she still held the world view of her father being an upstanding businessmen in the Brissian immigrant community in Durik City State, if not the whole Confederacy of Gaia. To this day, I'm not entirely sure if she knew why I first started coming around her father and his associates.
It wasn't for the lessa and slimini pasta dinners, that's for fruking sure.
I looked back out the window as the train emerged from the tunnel, the lights of the car flickering, making the orange glow of the city play across the car in garish shadows like a half-remembered nightmare. The lights stabilized and I watched the city sprawl begin to thin out into the freeman slums. Small clusters of low-tech idealists living in scrap metal shanty towns that hung off of half ruined buildings from the Wars like rust colored coral on a sunken battleship. They'd grown thrice-fold since I'd been gone, half due to refugees. Half due to technophobes and conspiracy theorists terrified of the government and the corps controlling their lives. It was a movement that had become extremely popular after the end of the V'Halsen Wars, but it seemed to have grown even more popular now that the Gaian Free State Army had begun running operations in Gaemiria City State. Another stirring development in the near-over boiling crock pot that was Confederate politics. Another stirring development I'd watched from afar while in Kleria.
What if Jinny had changed since I'd been gone?
What if she'd been brought into the family “business”, and what if that's why she was missing? A mafia, like any business, government, or virus, needs to expand or die. Hell. For all I knew, she wasn't just going to Briss to visit family because the C-Fed bombs were falling and the drones and choppers were running raids on any possible threat. For all I knew, she was there learning the family trade. A trade she'd have to have known at some point.
The landscape jarred suddenly from the freeman slums to the exuberant luxury of walled in compounds of mansions and glass cathedral shopping centers. The transition would have been shocking if it weren't for the makeshift wall that the freemen had built around their little sector of the city. I assumed it'd been built during the chaotic days after the C-Fed forces had ousted Lady V'Halsen and before they'd imposed martial law and kicked out the well equipped highland nomads who ascended on Durik around the same time. I had left just before it had happened, but from what Manny told me, the whole city turned into a colonial vid on amphetamines. Every faction in the city went at each others' throats because no-one trusted the nomads, the Vannies, or the C-Feds. Hell, no-one even knew why the nomads had shown up for the party, other than to kill some of “the Noble Lady's” goons who'd been giving them shit for so many years, but they were shooting at the C-Feds just as much as the Vannies.
Fruking chaos, Manny said.
On second thought, the wall may have been built by the fat cats who didn't want to get looted to hell and back. I'd have to look it up. Something pulled at the edges of my memory regarding the nomads back from my days in the Black Net. The train's piloting computer dinged and had announced in its quaint feminine voice that we were arriving at my stop, and all thoughts of the nomads and the city I'd left to burn faded. My eyes glanced up at the time display on my glasses and I hoped that my escort to the Mackavelli compound was on time.
The train slowed to a stop and I stood up, smoothing out my suit. The doors to the car slid open on both sides, and the MP stood in position so he could search anyone who came on. I chuckled despite myself. No one up here rode the train unless they had to, and here he was, just like an obedient guard dog, ready to search people who weren't even there. I walked up to the door and could see a lone limo sitting in the lot just beyond the platform. I was about to step off onto the platform when a stun rod slammed into my stomach.
I doubled over, my muscles constricting under the weight of fifty thousand volts, and threw up pale brown into the cracks between the platform and the door. I fell to my knees and coughed the last of my lunch up.
“What's so funny asshole?”
I looked up at him, taking my glasses off with a still convulsing hand, and laughed again.
“That you actually have a pair of balls.” I said just before I spat the last chunk of half digested rat-burger into his face.
I rose to my feet just as he brought the stun-rod up. It whined as it charged up for a second blow, but my hand caught his wrist and his groin caught my knee. His body armor took most of the impact but I pulled him down onto it before turning and throwing him into the side of the door. I guess I was just lucky that it had begun to close and hit him in the back as it started to slide in. I stepped neatly onto the platform and his torso was bumped again and again by the door as it tried to close. The train's computer began droning with an annoyingly polite tone again and again.
I was too preoccupied with the fact that my glasses had just popped up with little icons indicating hostile movement from either side of me. Software that reads “hostile movement” generally reads the RFID chips on military-grade weapons and relays that to the HUD. Software like that is generally military-grade. Software like that is generally illegal for civilians.
Not like I give a shit.
I took off at a bolt for the limo, hearing the two MP's boots pounding on the platform as they closed in on me from either side. I put one hand out to vault myself off of the railing. I had forgotten about the rain earlier that morning, and I skidded off, my shoulder slamming onto the hood of the car. I slid off and landed face first onto the pavement, my glasses cracking against the plascrete.
“Fruk.” I muttered, rolling onto my back.
The two MP's held compact semi-automatic guns that were aimed... just above me.
I looked up to see that the doors of the limo had swung open and that two black suited Mackavelli gunmen were using them as cover holding their own semi-autos. I glanced back at the MP's faces, and I could tell they were just as frightened as the guy who I'd just handed his own ass to. Granted, he'd decided to fight, and I didn't trust some pig's trigger finger any more than a Grey Shujini's. I rose myself up to a crouch, keeping one hand on the ground and another outstretched to keep the MP's from lighting me up faster than a Wintermass wreath.
“Hey, let's just calm-” I began, but was cut off by another, older, huskier voice.
A voice I knew.
“That won't be needed, Sal.” the well-fed mafia master said, walking out from behind his gunmen and into the space between me and the guards.
A space that was begging to be filled with bullets.
“I believe we have an agreement, soldiers.” the Don said. “An agreement which states, as long as you do not give my associates trouble, we do not give you trouble.”
The guards stood still.
“Se'vve?” the Don asked.
Slowly, the MP's realized what was going on, and I wondered what drugs they were taking and what drugs they were on right now, because they took a good minute before backing away and going to help their comrade up out of the door and my regurgitated lunch. Don Mackavelli turned and smiled to me as the two guards walked their buddy down to the platform station house. I glanced at them as they glared, and then let the Don pull me to my feet.
We shook hands, and then, surprisingly, he pulled me into a bear hug and kissed both of my cheeks. It was common enough with the Brissians and all, but I'd only ever seen the Don do it to people in the family. Not guys who he did business with and who had gone running around with his missing daughter.
He pulled back, placing an arm around my shoulder.
“Sal, it's things like this that make me wonder why the fruk I let you run around with my daughter.” he said, walking us to the back of the limo.
“C'mon. Get in.” the Don urged me in with his waving hands.
I was, to say the least, hesitant. Having the MP's in his back pocket didn't surprise me, no. Him mentioning Jinny and treating me like family did, surer than shit. For all I knew, the guy had very little idea of what kind of thing me and Jinny had going when it was, but I never remembered any invites to family dinner or that kind of affection. I remembered getting roughed up by a couple of his enforcers and breaking two ribs for bringing her home late a lot more. I also remembered barely even closing the fruking supply deal for twenty crates of trads because of the tension it caused.
I knew if I was him, and my daughter had gone missing around the same time her deadbeat ex-boyfriend had come back to town, I'd be suspicious. If I was him, I'd also be a mafia don so I'd probably make him feel at ease and then kill him the moment I got him back to my ritzy two million credit compound.
Just to play it safe.
“Oh, for fruk's sake.” the Don said inside the limo. “I'm not going to kill you. Just get in the gods-damned limo and let's go eat.”
Well, maybe I was just a little paranoid.
I stepped into the car and the Don made the motion to the gunmen-come-chauffeurs to take us home. The limo's electronic engine whined as we reversed out of the cracked pavement of the lot. I looked out the window at the weeds that were fighting for life in-between the cracks of the plascrete. I found my thoughts wandering over the faces and lives of the people from my neighborhood, thinking about how they were just struggling to survive in the cracks of a vast blackened society that could crush them with one or two well placed shots from a Pig like the ones I'd just encountered. I guess the weeds had to worry about gardeners, but at least gardeners didn't have trillions of corporate and government credits giving them high-tech guns.
Jinny came to mind.
“So,” I said, still staring out the window, “what can you tell me about Jinny?”
The Don leaned his fat head back and looked at me over the end of his shoulder.
“You knew her, Sal.” He chuckled and his neck jiggled. “Or should I call you 'Salmon'?”
I grinned wryly.
“I thought that was a clever nick name,” Jinny's father said, “considering how much she traveled downstream for you.”
I wish she would have, I thought, but reminded myself that we were talking about Jinny. Not my wife.
“I figured you knew about all that.” I replied.
“Who do you think I am? I'm a gods-damned Don of the biggest family in the country. I've got more eyes than the Central Gaian Intel Agency.”
“Don't they give out a lot of contracts to corps?”
“Some. I own branches of a few of them. Those contracts are good money.”
I turned, my eyes staring knives at him.
The Don took a deep breath and looked away, resting both of his leather gloved hands on his cane.
“I'd have other men shot for looking at me for that. Especially when I just saved their shitty-assed lives.” He looked over his shoulder at me again.
“Too bad.” I said. “I'm not really in the mood for giving a shit about my life right now.”
The Don grinned.
“Yeah. I heard about your marriage problems.”
“What? Why the fruk else would I have asked for your Shogun to bring you home?”
“What are you saying...” I felt my throat try and close up.
“I'm saying that if you help find Jinny,” he pointed out the window, “I can have that fat cocksucker of a teacher who's fruking your wife shot.”
The Don smiled at me with immaculately white teeth.
He extended a hand, and after a few quivering moments of mental deliberation, I grasped it and looked him straight in the eye.
“Deal.” I said, ecstatic that my honor could be redeemed with blood.
After all, I am a street samurai.
Check this spot on November 28th for the next installment of "STREET CLAN" and follow Salmon's descent back into the hell of the Shades of Grey universe. If you liked this, please click the donate button on the sidebar and support Reaver so we can keep making kick ass stuff like this and spreading the word about the Global Revolution!