Livewire sent his challenge off to Ratchet. The runner had embarrassed him in an upset in a race about a week ago and he was desperate to save face. The mousy, spikey haired rigger couldn’t stand being shown up by that robot-wannabe upstart.
It took him some time to make the arrangements, but he was assured an easy victory. Pulling some favors he arranged for two small gaps in the aerial coverage of the race. Just enough that he could make sure things went his way.
As the two cheetah drones took position at the starting line, Livewire mentally ready himself as his consciousness melted into his matte black drone with racing lights washing the asphalt in ever changing neon. He felt himself relax as the drone’s body became his own. He didn’t even need any tricks, he would win this easy.
On the mark, both drones took off. No one in meatspace could tell which moved first, both reacting with the lightning fast reflexes provided by their control rigs. The cheetahs raced up the two decks of the parking deck, banking off concrete walls and the occasional parked car, leaving dents and scratches on the surfaces they raced across.
Neck and neck both riggers maneuvered their drones expertly into the high speed traffic along the highway. A few GridGuide controlled cars braked slightly avoiding the speeding drones. Now out on to the straightaway provided by the highway, both riggers focused on pushing as much speed as possible through their biologically inspired drones.
And with that Livewire felt his confidence begin to melt away as Ratchet began to take a clear lead on him, weaving expertly through traffic and maximizing her speed. But even as worry began to edge into his thoughts, he received the AR alert that the first blindspot was coming up. Pushing everything he could out of his racer, he tried to close ranks with the other drone hoping to force her to smash into a car while no one could see.
He made the lunge, but to his surprise the other rigger burst out ahead of his reach and he lost more speed as he slammed into the pavement, almost losing his balance, and bleeding off crucial speed.
He regained his focus, with both riggers effortlessly making the hairpin turn leading into the traffic traveling the opposite direction back to the parking garage. Panic crept fully in as Ratchet continued to expand her lead over him. With a quick thought, he messaged his last resort to give the go ahead.
Ratchet raced ahead, the parking garage soon coming into sight, oblivious to the Mark being placed on her drone. Livewire’s hired decker effortlessly getting through the defenses put up by Ratchet’s RCC. Slight bursts of lag and a spam began to pour interfere with Ratchet’s connection to her drone, but the finish line was too close, her lead too great, and concentration too focused. Banking back around through the spiralling ramp down to the finish line in the parking garage, Ratchet was already stopped at the finish line and coming out of VR as Livewire’s drone hit the finish line.
He didn’t want to think of the favors he had called in and the money his collaborators had lost in their bets on him. With a wave of anxiety hitting him, he transferred nuyen he couldn’t afford over to Ratchet.
Neu-Hoy-Chen Free Press (2076.09.21)
The ladies of the NHC Co-op Circle proved their mettle when a local gang indiscriminately attacked the Co-op this last Sunday. While tensions had been rising in the neighborhood for the past few weeks, this brazen attack marked a new escalation in gang violence.
Irma Krause, 67, a regular of the Sewing Circle, was among the first to react. “If those tinmen think they can scare me and mine off that easy, they have a lot to learn. My Ruger Warhawk and I used to hold off far bigger threats than a bunch of lowlife gangers before the reunification. We kept the Corps out for decades, I’ll be damned if some crackpot chromeheads will push us around,” she said in a statement.
Irma and a few of the other Sewing Circle members were able to put a resolute defense, critically wounding one of the assailants and sending four others running. Three of the suspects were arrested fleeing the scene and the other taken in under critical condition.
Authorities were unable to provide any explanation to reports of a raccoon spirit flying around the gangers, nor why the assailants seemingly undamaged vehicle was disabled at the scene. Off the record, one source in the department reported that some of the assailants cyberware saw significant damage, all suggesting that the defense of the Co-op happened across the mundane, matrix, and astal fronts.
Sadly, two officers of the Lichtenberg Community Police were killed in the initial attack. Officer Kristian Thalberg, a 7 year veteran, and Officer Rubin Beckenbauer, a 5 year veteran, were shot down by the gangers as they opened fire initially. A bystander was critically injured in the attack also, but was later stabilized by a Good Samaritan attending an event at the Co-op.
A spokesman for the Co-op provided this statement to the NHC Free Press:
“What happened yesterday was a tragedy. Two fine officers of the LCP lost their lives defending the heart of our community. But even as our community’s dedicated protectors gave their lives, the community banded together to protect each other. And so we give tremendous thanks to the members who reacted without hesitation and prevented a greater tragedy.
We will be working with the LCP and volunteers to increase security around the Co-op. All scheduled events and operating hours will remain as usual. A candlelight vigil will be held on Wednesday for Officers Kristian Thalberg and Rubin Beckenbauer. A collection is being held for their surviving loved ones.”
When asked about their plans to curb the growing gang violence, an LCP spokesman had only this to say, “Look, I think the heroic sacrifices by two of our own who fell on Sunday say everything we need to say about what we are doing to combat gang violence, and I think it’s inappropriate to spread fear mongering about a rise in gang violence.”
The detective stared at the coffee cup in his hand, too distracted for once to be irritated by the wheezing sounds and pervasive odor of sweat and too much cologne that constantly accompanied his partner. The two homicide detectives sat in their unmarked car a few blocks down from the entrance to the Event Horizon.
“You sure you don’t want me to go in with you?”
The words broke Detective Christoph Funck out of his trance. “What?”
His partner repeated, “You okay? I said, you sure you don’t want me to go in with you?”
The man gave the impression of having food in his mouth when he spoke, even when he wasn’t eating.
“No. It’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll deal with the runners.”
The slovenly cop in the passenger seat shrugged as Funck climbed out of the vehicle and headed towards the main entrance of the night club and runner haven.
Even without a uniform or obvious badge, the cop projected a clear aura of law enforcement around him and people on the street gave him a clear berth as he made his way up the block. His teeth grit in annoyance as each step towards the entrance brought more and more ARO spam from the club. Visuals of recent and upcoming acts, dancing clubgoers, drink specials, and more popped up with increasing frequency as the distance closed.
He walked past the line of people waiting for access and flashed his badge via AR to the bouncers who immediately waved him past. With the last step up the stairs to the front door, all of the noise and visuals in AR vanished around him, seemingly sucked into the matte black surface of the building.
Crossing through the doors into a small entry room with a coat check, a message appeared across his vision.
Welcome on behalf of the Event Horizon, Detective Funck. Please proceed to the VIP area for your scheduled meet.
The message faded out and an overlay appeared on the ground ahead of him leading him directly into the club and down the ramp towards the VIP Vault areas. The bouncers outside of the massive vault door paid him no mind as he passed through and followed the AR guide towards a small meeting room inside the vault.
Taking the seat positioned to watch the door directly, the cop settled in to wait for the runners to arrive and thought on the series of events that had led to this arrangement. His superiors couldn’t afford the press that would come from an active investigation into a series of brutal murders on top of everything else going on in the district. Their solution was to try to bury it, but as the crimes escalated it became clear that they couldn’t keep the lid on it forever.
And so the top brass made the decision to bring in runners. Opening up a legitimate investigation in their minds would be even worse now than it was in the first place, and so their plan was to hand the job over to paid criminals.
But he couldn’t see this as the worst solution. With any luck, the runners he was directed to would be able to stop whoever – or whatever – was behind the brutal killings. In his time as a homicide detective, he hadn’t seen anything quite like this so maybe hiring out was a prudent choice and they could do things in ways he wasn’t able to.
Still, his sneer deepened as the runner team opened the door to the room and began to file in.