The Duchess Makes Breakfast Burritos …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

So as it turns out, my breakfast burritos are starting to become legendary with both Havoc Squad in San Francisco and for my team in Baltimore. Both Soren and BetaTest really like them. They were one of the first things that I learned to cook. Frank found an old recipe card from my mom for it and gave it to me. I memorized it and havent really changed it much. The only changes I really made was for the soysage. I cant really stand it so I use real sausage and chorizo instead. A bit more expensive, but makes for a better burrito. The other change I made was using fire roasting the peppers. Getting that char on them helps bring out the yum on them. So here is the recipe for them.

6 eggs
3 to 5 fire-roasted jalepenos
2 fire-roasted green peppers
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 large ripe red tomato, diced
3 to 4 small fresh mushrooms, sliced (I prefer white button or portobello)
1 lb pork breakfast sausage (fully cooked)
1 bag (1 lb 4 oz) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
6 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded monterey jack / pepperjack cheese blend

1 medium avocado, sliced (optional)

First you want to fully cook the sausage and eggs. Now there are two ways to make these. I prefer to keep all the ingredients separate and then add individually to the burrito, but you can mix it all in the pan and just scoop the mixture into the tortilla and enjoy! Either way, you can top it with the fresh sliced avocado, but these go extremely well with some homemade guacamole as well!

The Duchess Meets a Raccoon …

[Baltimore, UCAS]

From what I can remember, Raccoon has always been with me. My earliest memory is shortly after my parents died. Frank, Star Flower and a few other adults were around talking about me and my parents like I wasn’t there. Like I didn’t matter. Like I was insignificant in this fragged up world. I was sitting in this room with all these adults when a furry little trash panda showed up. He skulked around the adults and came to play with me. He chased around the ball I had, curled around me, let me scratch behind his ears and under his chin. He likes that. I felt safe with him. I felt … like I mattered.

There wasn’t much that I remember with the discussions except that it was about my parents. It seemed whenever something important was mentioned, they switched to hushed tones. Again, they looked at me as if I was a by-product of some significant event … but was insignificant still. I looked around and tried to pay attention to what was going on, but Raccoon kept distracting me. Looking back, I can now tell that he was protecting me.

Years later, Star Flower took me under her wings and taught me the ways of being a magician. Frag, I must have been 10 or so then. Started out as basic stuff, but then we started exploring the Astral space around Baltimore. It was here that I started to feel the same fear as I did when I was in the living room as a kid. Fear of the unknown, I would say. While she was teaching me about auras and how to read them, a powerful fire spirit attacked us. I did my best to stay out of the way while Star Flower handled it, but there was little I could do. The spirit landed a direct blow on me. I could feel my body burn with the pain. I closed my eyes was back in the living room again, hearing the adults talk about adult stuff. The same burning pain coursed through my body then as it does now. When I opened my eyes up again, Raccoon stood between the fire spirit and my crumpled body. Star Flower stood next to him, a look of shock at the giant beast spirit that came to my aid. The fire spirit didnt stand a chance.

Afterwards, Star Flower and I had a long discussion about Raccoon. I explained that I have been seeing him ever since my parents died and that he has helped me through the difficult times. It was then that she started teaching me about mentor spirits and how they exist to assist us. She taught me how to accept Raccoon and to ask Raccoon to accept me. I remember thinking that the “quest”, as she called it, was pointless since I already accepted him and he apparently has accepted me.

Star Flower helped me to build a lodge to protect me during my quest. She kept reinterating why I need to make sure that I was protected while projecting or leaving my body. There were some apparently nasty beings out there that would inhabit the bodies of mages while they were unprotected. Once the lodge was completed, I projected into the Astral plane.

Almost immediately, Raccoon was there. We discussed various topics, mostly on how to treat spirits. We mutually understood that magicians, such as myself, needed to respect spirits, ask for thier assistance and thank them when finished. When I respect the spirits, they will be more willing to assist me. However, I didnt no believe in binding them to serve me. I know other mages do it and Raccoon was ok with it, but it seemed barbaric in its “Master – Slave” relationship.

We also discussed me and how I have developed over the years. He took me back to the living room when I was a child. Instantly, the fear and pain came back. I could see myself, as a child, play with Raccoon while everyone else discussed adult topics. Even then, none of the words made sense. When I asked why I was brought back to this place, Raccoon simply sshhhhhed me. “Really, you going to shhh me?” I said. Then the stern look came from the furry creature. Its hard to imagine a scolding look come from a raccoon, but it got the point across. There were … papers??? … being shuffled around. These seemed to be the details of my trust fund and how Frank will be the trustee involved with that. Then there was an old manilla folder and pictures of … the car accident? “Wait a minute …” I thought to myself. The realization of who one of the people in the room was just hit me. He was an investigator of some sort. A single word changed my life forever during that quest. “Murder

After that, Raccoon has been my mentor, friend and sounding board when needed. Shortly after this quest was when I got the note that started my career as a shadowrunner. Still to this day, all I know is that something happened to my parents and it was not an accident. With Raccoon’s help, I WILL find out the truth.

The Duchess Escapes Reality…

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

Duchess sat on her couch in her Baltimore apartment that looks over the harbor. Night has come and she hasnt moved since she picked up the BTLs from Dr. Feelgood. She held one of the chips in her fingers, staring at it … pondering on whether or not to slot it. She picked up a new commlink with an illegal hot sim module that will allow her to get the full experience of the BTL through her datajack. Memories of past events flow through her mind. The violent death of Bowjack … eventhough Walker tried to shield her from most of it. The insect shaman and his … bugs, shuttering at the thought of crawling through those tunnels. The toxic mage and his turning her Raccoon spirit against her. Her continued relationship with Acorn. The disappointment in the face of Star Flower when she got her datajack. The face of the Yakuza that she killed … All of it was too much. She needed to flee … she needed to run away … she needed an escape and the BTL she held in her hand was the ticket out. All she had to do was slot it. Then she remembered her first run in Baltimore and the extraction from the BTL den. All of those trippers there. Most of them have forgotten about the world. They forgot they needed to eat and to sleep. They forgot to remember simple things like brushing their teeths or exercising. They forgot to … live. They forgot to detach from the ride. She didnt want this to happen to her. All she wanted was just to escape for awhile. She slotted the chip and booted it up.

The feeling started out simple enough. She found herself walking along a tropical beach on a warm sunny day. The warm breeze and sun enveloped her. Her skin tingled in the rays of sunshine. It tingled in the salt spray of the waves. It tingled as the warm sand pushes between her toes. She sat in the sand as the warm water started to reach her. How long has she been sitting here, she wondered, as the tide came in. Nobody else was around and she realized she was naked. The salty ocean water sprayed across her body. She could feel, smell and even taste the individual drops of water. The next wave came upon her. Time slowed to a crawl as she watched the water crash into her. The drops of water seemed to crystalize into shining diamonds. The sound of the ocean rush her ears, the smell of the saltwater invaded her nose, the salty taste of the ocean on her lips and the wet feeling of the water enveloped her entire body. The feeling was … indescribable, intense and strangely erotic. Another wave crashed into her naked body, but this time she was waiting for it. She wanted it. She craved it. The intense ecstasy she felt as the water rushed over her topped anything she has ever felt before. She imagined herself with Acorn and even this was better than the time spent with her. She readied herself for the next wave … but it never came.

Duchess found herself in back in the apartment, her body still throbbing from the experience, so much so, she had to go change her clothes. Then it hit her. The extreme loneliness, the despair, the misery of living in this world came crashing down on her. It literally brought her to her knees as she curled up in a fetal position in the bathroom. Her body went cold and chills ran up and down her spine as the crash continued. She screamed out as the excruciating headache came. She thought of things that made her happy. Raccoon, Acorn, Magic, the campout she had with Walker … none of it helped. Magic has betrayed her. Raccoon was turned against her. Acorn and Walker were disappointed, even mad, at her. Everyone was against her. She thought of her parents, of Frank, of Star Flower. They were all disappointed in her. She let them all down. Then there was the Yak. His face returned to her. She grabbed the katana and swung at the image, but nothing was there. “NOOOOO!” She yelled as his face appeared again. She swung down with the sword as in drove into the face of Acorn. She dropped to her knees again, her eyes filled with tears.

I thought these were supposed to take these away. I thought that these were supposed to stop.” She said out loud to the empty apartment. She then noticed the pile of chips that she purchased sitting on the nightstand. This must be why the people in the BTL den kept slotting these. She picked up another chip and stared at it. Pondered on slotting it to take the pain away. “I just want to escape for awhile.” she said softly …

The Duchess Camps With Wolf …

[San Francisco, CFS — 2074]

Walker and Duchess head out to Big Sur, south of San Francisco, to go on a camping trip and get back in sync with Wolf and Raccoon. They park the Jeep at a campsite, pull up a log and get camp set up. The sat on the log overlooking the fire, staring at the embers as the fire crackled in the night.

The young mage breaks the silence and looks over to Walker. “So just how was it that you came to know Wolf? I mean, was it by happenstance or did you seek him out?

Walker looks over at the girl as he fiddles with his necklace. “Uhm…” He stops for a moment, sighing a bit. “It definitely wasn’t my intention to bond with Wolf originally. He sort of found me at one of my worst moments.

Duchess looks at him … waiting for you to say more, but not wanting to pry. “It must have been a pretty bad time …

Walker just stares back at her, getting the inkling of what she wants. “Heh. Alright. Yes, it was. I ran in a gang when I was younger. Let’s just say that one day, things finally came to a head. I was looking death straight in the face, and Wolf came in to help me. He gave me the strength I needed.” He starts messing with the necklace again, slowly rolling it around in his hand. “What about you? How did you find Raccoon?

I was getting familiar with the Astral plan with my mentor, Star Flower. We were attacked by some spirits and Raccoon came to my aid … so I guess the same as you.” She pauses for a moment. “But I remember seeing him way before then. I remember first seeing Raccoon when my parents were killed. I was just a little girl and I was sitting in the living room as Frank, Star Flower, and others were discussing adult things. I was sad, but then this furry little Raccoon wrapped itself around me … almost shielding me from what was being discussed. I petted and played with him, rubbed him behind the ears and scratched under his chin.

Walker smiles a bit as the teen recounts her memories of the raccoon, but he frowns as he registers what she said. “Well, I think it’s good your spirit showed up so early for you. I only wish mine had made himself more prevalent when I was coming of age.” He looks at her a moment, as if contemplating his words. “I am… sorry about your parents. I never thought to ask.

A somber look comes across her face. “It’s ok … its been a long time. Frag, I was like six when it happened.” She stops for a moment and goes into her almost trance posture as she summons up a low force Raccoon spirit. “I don’t know what happened, I just know that there was a car accident. It wasn’t up until a few months ago did I start to think there was something more to it. I found a note that simply said ‘Look to the Shadows to shed the Light’ It was then I started being a shadowrunner. Hell, it was Calypso that originally introduced me to it and that is when I met you guys.” She stops to look at you with her intense green emerald eyes that are just barely on the edge of breaking down.

Walker just looked back with his own bright orange eyes, softening his gaze as she seemed to wither a bit. “Hey…” He muttered. “It’s alright.” He wrapped an arm around the girl, trying to soothe Duchess a bit. “I’m sure the more you look into it, the more you are likely to find. You’ve made it this far in the Shadows. The end can’t be too much farther at this rate.” He pulled her just a bit closer with a small smile. “I mean, you’re pretty damn tough as it is. I’m sure you’ll push your way to the info you need.

yeah …” she says with the same somber look. “But what will be the price for that? I mean, everyone keeps on talking about how everything has a price, but what could that price possibly be?” She looks blankly at nothing, then goes into another trance and summons up a low level wolf beast spirit. The two beast spirits play and chase each other around. “I grew up with secrets. I still live with secrets … hell we work in secret. Have you ever just wondered what life would be like with all these damn secrets…

If what? If we discovered all those secrets that had been locked away from us?

More like if all those secrets that we each hold so dear were suddenly no more. How liberating would that be? Granted, we wouldnt have jobs, but the world would be a better place … atleast I like to think it would be

Walker goes silent for a moment, thinking quietly as he just had a hold on her. “I think… I think that’s very positive thinking. But, I also think that it’s impossible. Secrets have their own use in the world.” He sighs quietly. “I think you’re right. Some secrets are burdens. We carry them and all they do is weigh us down. But, some secrets give us comfort. Things that only we know that let us feel the more positive side of life every once in a while. But, I doubt secrets are the main problem for the world, little one.

After a few moments, Duchess straightens up a bit. “So what did it feel like … I mean, to see that Wolf was there at that moment?

Walker looks at her for a moment, trying to judge her. He just sighs a bit, looking away. “To be honest, I didn’t see him. Not at the moment he appeared anyway. I felt him. There was something like a brush of fur and just this… this feral anger, this need to fight that I hadn’t felt before. Afterwards, I saw him when I finally made it back to my home, he was just standing there in the street. I looked at him, and he walked away.

Duchess closes her eyes for a few minutes and tries to steer the conversation away from her parents. The memories of when she first met Raccoon and all those adults talking about her and her parents like none of us where there was starting to get to her. She looks at the two beast spirits playing. “Have you ever considered leaving Wolf or looking for another mentor spirit? I mean, I couldn’t imagine my life without Raccoon.

Walker looks at the two beast spirits messing about. Then, he turns his gaze to Duchess. “Duchess… what color are my eyes?

She doesn’t even look up from what she is staring at. “Orange” she answers without hesitation

Walker smiles at her a bit, just out of her gaze. “Good. Now. Do you think they were always like that?”

The question caught her by surprise. Her eyes have always been green, but there are people that get them changed with surgery or implants. “I dont know?”

Walker chuckled a bit. “I would not have really expected you to. Believe it or not, they used to be a dark brown when I was younger. It was a nice offset to the color of my hair.” He ran a hand to push his dark red hair back again. “They changed the day Wolf came to me. When I looked at him on that street and he disappeared, I went back inside to wash my face and nearly drekked myself when I noticed the bright orange staring back at me. Like a Wolf’s eyes in the darkness.” His hand came to the totem again, gripping it now. “To answer your question, I have thought about how I would be if Wolf hadn’t come to me. As far as I’m concerned though, he is now a piece of me. He gives me the strength to protect those around me, and he’s been with me through times even I wish I could forget. My eyes… I believe they’re his mark on me, so I don’t forget.

Duchess looks at the totem … she is familiar with foci from spending so much time at the shop, but this one seems different than others she has seen. “So if Wolf left his mark on you, why hasn’t Raccoon left one on me?” she says as her voice trails off …

Walker pulls up the arm that he has around her to rest a hand on her head. He speaks softly, in a gentle voice.”Maybe he has, kid. It’s possible that you just haven’t noticed it. Maybe it’s how you interact with him. The control you have over spirits and bargaining with them, along with talking to Raccoon. It’s different from me and Wolf.

She thought to herself. “Yeah, maybe … I seemed to always been able to talk to the spirits and they seem more than happy to help when I ask them to.” She pauses for a moment as the Raccoon spirit comes to her side.

Walker just watches it silently for a moment before he speaks. “Well, I think that’s special. A connection with spirits like that. I know I never learned such a thing.

The morning sun broke the horizon to light up the forest. “Wow … it’s already morning?” She turns to the two spirits and pets them both. “Thank you both“. She closes her eyes and dismisses the spirits.

She gets up from the log they were sitting on and she gets some stuff from the back of the Jeep. “I am making breakfast, you hungry?” At the fire, she gets the pan hot and throws in the veggies and sausage. The smell of the sausage was a telltale sign that it was REAL sausage. After it was done, she threw it all in a toasted tortilla, rolled it up and presented it to Walker. “This is going to be the best breakfast burrito of you life!

Walker just smirks at that. “I’m sure you’ll tell me, even if I say otherwise.” He takes the offered food and proceeds to eat. His face comes up with a small smile. “I’ll have to give it to you, kid. It definitely tastes better than Soy.” The man continues to eat until he is finished with the meal.

The pair of mages talked some more as they ate breakfast and enjoyed the fresh air and woods. The time spent there relaxing was rewarding for both of the mages.

The Duchess Goes Grocery Shopping …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

I decided to get out of bed today around 11am, that is after laying in bed for an hour or so checking various news and social media feeds. Its the day after our last run and for a Monday morning, it was relatively boring. I didn’t have any plans today, so I decided to spend the day out and about the town. I closed down the feeds on the commlink and played with Rabbit for a bit. He apparently was hungry due to the incessant meowing and I was as well. When I got out of bed, I slipped on my house slippers, that look like raccoon faces of course, and Rabbit immediately pounced on them. He really likes it when I wear them around the house, he will leap out of nowhere and attack them, then dart back into another hiding plan. “Frag!! Rabbit … damn you” I yelled when his claws went in a little too deep. I strolled out of the bedroom, still wearing my t-shirt and panties, and walked to the kitchen to get some coffee made. While it was brewing, I went ahead and fed Rabbit and decided to check out the city from the window. There were floor to ceiling windows in the living room that looked out over Baltimore and has a decent view of the harbor. The sun was out this morning, but clouds were expected throughout.

I made myself some breakfast and got dressed for the day. I needed to get some shopping done and made a list of what I needed. Now that I decided to keep Rabbit, I needed to get some more cat food and and stuff for him. I headed down to the Stuffer Shack and mostly wandered the aisles grabbing what I needed. I almost forgot to grab a pack of burritos and the food for Rabbit. As I went to the sections of the store, my AR display popped up a coupon for both of them. “SCORE!!” I went through checkout, grabbing a copy of the latest celebrity gossip magazine, and started back home.

I turned off the commlink since it started getting spammed with various celebrity news and some ads for Sir Fluffington line of cat clones by EVO. They looked strangely like Rabbit. I might have to check into if he is one of them. There were additional ads for various magical goods and, of course, upcoming concert events. I didnt feel much like looking to those now, but will at another time. I rounded the a corner and past a little boutique shop that had some antiques. Curious, I stopped in and checked around. I turned my commlink back on and brought up my AR display. There were some various odds and ends and even some 5th world trinkets. A small glass case caught my eye and there was a small silver amulet in it. I did a quick image search on the amulet and it was what I thought it was. A 5th world rendition of a symbol for my Shamanic tradition … and only 200 nuyen!! I got all giddy and bought it. It was a perfect fit.

I kept walking down the street and looking at then amulet. You know what, this would make a perfect telesma for a foci. I stopped in my tracks all of a sudden and looked around. Nothing …

Strange” I said to myself.

I kept walking, but someone … or something was watching me. I didn’t notice anyone around me so I shifted to look in the Astral plane, but nothing was there either. I picked up the pace as I finished the walk back to my apartment. I rounded the last corner and into the doors of the building. I stopped again to look around. Again nothing … I looked Astrally and what I say nearly knocked me off my feet.

What the frag!” I said in shock. “Dammit Raccoon!

Raccoon simply laughed and moseyed on his way. At least I knew that if nobody else was there for me, I could always count on Raccoon to be there. I laughed and went into my apartment. Rabbit was on the chair in front of the window soaking in the sun. I put away the groceries and gave Rabbit a new toy to play with. Of course he just looked at me in shock for disturbing him and went back to sunning himself.

So now that I have that stuff done, I need to get down to the shop and get some supplies for a magical lodge and have Star Feather make a focus for her.  She starts putting another list together.

Looks like today is going to be a shopping list day, Rabbit“. The cat again looks like “how dare you disturb me, woman!” I laughed and said, “one day we would be able to know what you say in your head and we will all live in fear …