Tale of “Frank” and “Bob”
Warfare begins in the the heart. Someone wrote that somewhere, perhaps a few worlds away. Maybe everyone believes that due to some recent Trideo or a widespread BTL. With a good decker, anything is possible.
This war of mine definitely started in the heart, the muscle trying to tear itself apart. Years of augmentations, cyber running through until I sometimes think the cold is just my body. I’m a walking coffin. Every run leads to a fight. Every fight riddles what remains with slugs, shrapnel, and a new reason to visit the body bank. Can’t keep this up.
The next run was like every other, a fight as a one man army built with great science for some shady Johnson. Or so I thought. I’ve come across this particular runner before. The last time, we ran out of munitions, beat each other senseless, called it a draw and made some deal. Added a few more burn rooms with more guns and munitions since then. Never thought the deal would be collected.
Repelling from the 130th floor to the 97th in Seattle Downtown definitely gave me one of those insightful moments. Reminded me I was human, somewhere in this husk. The glass glowed with raindrops from colliding temperatures between inland and bay, one of my favorite places and times. I’ve hit this building a few times over the years. Hope to continue. Seems he had the same idea.
We faced off around 123. He wasn’t waiting for me to get inside, making it personal. Fine by me. We rushed each other, guns firing in arcs, leaping wide on rigs. Any bullet could have frayed our lines, sending us to a brutal death. With the cyberware in our bodies, we might even break through the streets into the Ork Underground. A shared deathwish. Well, this night just gets better and better. He’s grinning, the patch over his eye shifting in colors, a display behind it. Smart missile fire from a pack on his back, that’s damn new.
Flipping far out in a tucked somersault, I tossed flares bright as my body heat, confusing the circuits. Just long enough to pull that missile off target, a moment more is all I needed. Spearing my body forward, limbs propelling me with weight and ‘jectors sent me colliding with my so called nemesis.
We had no idea of our real names, and the fake ones changed every time. I’m so tired of his shit, this work, maybe it’s time to accept fate. That thought lasted a nano second when he laughs. Damn Frank.
“Smart. I bring it back, we both go up.”
I peered over his shoulder, keeping a hard lock on him from window reflections. “You mean down.”
“The amount of explosives we are packing, Bob, we’ll go up like Redmond during Dwarven Christmas.”
Now I laughed. Had to admit, it was pretty funny. I never noticed he had brown eyes at some point. Reminded me of caramel candies my granny used to give me, clear and golden, coming in these little purple and brown wrappers. I took the other eye some scrap back. Oddly enough, he’s staring back into my Stratolinear Vexxars, something new a friend got my way. Gold, green, black, deadly. Most chummers that see them this close are taking a last breath.
Frank’s taken ten by now.
“I’m still alive.” Had he read my mind?
“We’ve been at this a long time, Frank.”
“Far too long.”
We had the same timber in our voices, the stress read out in my HUD gave sparks. Suicidal. Lost cause. “Brothers in arms. That meant something over 50 years ago. Now it’s some damn go ganger catch phrase.”
We twisted and pulled knives, vital areas marked, missiles and blades ready to kill slow or fast.
“Do it on the count of 3?”
Frank hesitated. He sensed my words were hollow. Maybe his readout was the same, just took longer to verify. “I have another idea. Screw these missions. We go rogue.”
He coudl tell I’m interested. Any other chummer runner would have been raining ash on those fancy Johnsons below. Made not a bit of sense to keep up this cold metal war. “Brothers…”
The trip down and away was far from typical. The corps would seek us out, try to tear away the cyber provided. We woudl put up one hell of a fight. For now, this battle’s end wasn’t what I expected.
The moment I walked through our safehouse’s doors, he went on the warpath. Knives popped from my wrists, meeting the blade he gripped. So close, shouldn’t have let my guard down.
“So Bob. What’s your real name?” He grinned, this close looking …intriguing. I’ve never seen him in natural lighting. Damn caramel eye, thin lips, fit to be tied. He seemed likewise interested, keeping in close quarters to twist me around. Within a few steps, we hit a corner.
“Animus. You?” Latin but it always fit my outlook. A soul in a box.
“Darkwolf. Seems we’ve both been loners.” He twisted at the hip, dropping faster than any other I’ve fought before, two slices and my belt was ribbons. Cute.
I leaped upwards, every servo and bundle of tech forcing my heavy body far above into darkness. All he could see were the golden rings of my eyes. My feet landed on the wall giving me enough traction to run down, leap forward, then back, two slices in an arc before he could recover. Good bye shit.
Pitted marks of my fire fights with him left a map he finished off with tattoos. Some strange work where the bullet holes were wolf eyes. A whole pack of wolves. Had we fought so long? My pants started falling down, worthless if caught. And that brought the strangest reaction from him, a grin.
Movements became a blurring dance, reaction and instinct fired with locator beckons, warnings, and room schematics. Machine and man moving like lightening. I had my arm around his throat. He could have stabbed through the servos…but he didn’t.
He kissed me. And for once, my heart pounded harder not from fighting, but something unexpected. What the frak. I threw him aside and the ass just twirled me in and scooped me close in some ballroom dance move. Confused me long enough to get in another kiss. I’m staring at him now, not reacting, but not pulling away.
It’s sudden then, blades retracted into my wrists and I shoved him back and back until we hit some table of metal. He met my steps until we tumble with mechanical grace. His hands were everywhere, careful with the flesh we still had on our bones, but damn if I didn’t have this need to prove how alive I really am.
We wrestled until the pinions of my arms are giving warnings across the HUD, ready to unhinge if I didn’t pop some serious moves. Or just gave in. What can I say, in this war, he won.
(story continues on another page, extreme in every detail)