Shadowrun Returns: Soon
You wait your habitual long count of twenty after the door slams, staring up at the crazed ceiling with the odd bullethole and the deep, scorched scar leftover from the Maiden Handgrenaten case. Licksy’s signature mélange of BO and nicostix still assails your nostrils when it’s done. The air exchanger where the lower lobe of your left lung used to be does its job finally. You’d been mentally willing it not to wheeze while the dwarf fixer was in your office—for someone with such delicate feelings you’d think he’d do more to keep in clean clothes.
Cold, hard nuyen in the bank. Time to celebrate.
You tip your size 25 boots off your pre-fab desk and reach for the bottom drawer. The creak that erupts from your straining chair is echoed by the creaking of bones. Goblinization hit you harder than most. When the other juves in school were worrying about getting hair on their wedding tackle you were worrying about hiding the tusks and 80 kilos of extra muscle. Humanis policlub had ties with Shatogunda Corp back then, and the best you could hope for was Dad’s contract being terminated when they found out. That didn’t much matter when Dad turned out to be an ork too. You’d think a megacorp headed by a millennia-old dragon would be more willing to tolerate those caught in the fallout of magic returning to the world.
No synth-drek for you this time. Real bourbon. The hard stuff, still in the vacuum-sealed cylinder, is your reward. It glistens like red gold as it eases into the shot glass. That glass is smaller than your yellowed thumbnail, but the night is still young, the fires out in the Sprawl and gunshots closer to your little stomping ground have only just begun—take your time savoring it.
“Seems a little out of your price range,” a wry, feminine voice says.
In a flash, your Ares roomsweeper is out from under the desk, the bottle protectively in your other hand. Only then does the shot glass shatter against the bare ferrocrete floor. A willowy figure is standing in the corner, inspecting the hung pictures and clippings that are all you have to show for twenty years beating the harsh pavement as if the fragging mammoth of a battle shotgun isn’t even there. Long, silky black hair sweeps down a synthleather overcoat. High-heeled jackboots and slender, delicate hands are all you can see protruding from its folds. Too stiff to be decorative. Too scarred to be a corp-brat slumming it. Armored.
You hadn’t heard her come in. And that just didn’t happen. Not good.
“Dish,” you rumble, and set the bottle back in its protective sheathe. It’s meant to be disarming, but the smile out of the corner of her high-boned face tells you she knows you’re freeing your hands for action.
Blinding fast, she turns. Wired reflexes. You flick the shotgun into full-auto mode and let the ominous hum it emits speak for you.
“You’re Jack Hardt? Private investigator?” she asks, moving her hair out of her black, almond eyes. The chrome of a datajack glistens at her temple, but you’re more wary of the chrome peeking from the end of her left fist. Flick razors. She’s too high tech for a lowlife razorgirl.
“And you’re no five nuyen and a hit street samurai,” you return.
You stumble over your chair to keep her out of blade range as she sweeps forward to drop ceremoniously in front of your desk. Her eyes are looking for weakness, laughing and roving over the beaten up 2.5 meter rawboned body that fate deemed fit to bless and curse you with. She tips her head slightly in respect when she finds none.
“Feel free to speculate on what I am not,” she says, then switches to Navajo, a language from a past no one living knew of. “But it would be better for us if you did not think on what I am.”
The words sink in, and the controlled tension eases from your frame just as your heart grows heavier. The roomsweeper is placed carefully on the desk between you two, and you right your chair to sit down.
“So you’re putting together a run?” you sigh.
Her graceful head dips, and you see the tips of her ears peeking through her hair for the first time, confirming your suspicions.
“How much?” you ask.
Welcome to the world of Shadowrun—a dystopian cyberpunk universe where flesh meets machine meets magic. Set in the year 2054 since 1989, Shadowrun rivals Dungeons & Dragons for the most popular and bestselling pen-and-paper game on the market, diversifying into books and, more importantly for our purposes, video games.
Old timers like myself will recall the video game franchise which lasted from 1993 to 1995, and still marvel at how well the game mechanics, even for what appear to be rudimentary consoles to a modern perspective, managed to capture the flavor and appeal of the Shadowrun universe. Sadly, the newer generation of video gamers’ only exposure to this phenomenon has been the 2007 Xbox 360 release Shadowrun, which was only intended for multiplayer on Xbox Live.