Shadowrun: Richmond, Virginia, CAS

Arctic Village, part 1
While you were out....

Garrison duty? Really? I may not remember my past, but I know I’m better than all this. Hence my street name of “Lazarus”. May not have returned from the dead, but since I don’t know my old life, I may as well have.

It’s cold. Really cold. I mean freeze your piss instantaneously creating urine-sickles kind of cold. And dark. No sun for almost 22 hours a day. Cold and dark. Great combination. If it weren’t for Kane, I sure as hell wouldn’t be here. And even then, I questioned it. The last time this whole crew got together, a dragon sat on me. Literally. And no, it wasn’t good times. I can’t say that I’m not expecting everything to go to drek and leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere Alaska. I miss the Barrens of Petersburg.

While Kane, Grummish, Dana, and Sunder get dropped off miles north of BFE Alaska, I get to stay here. They even took that newcomer Kira along. For her sake, I hope she knows what she’s getting into. Hell, if she doesn’t work out, she might have to worry about Grummish killing her.

Luckily I’ve got Katai with me. Always good to have a Panther Assault Cannon wielding troll nearby. Spitfire is also a welcome sight. A mage is always handy, but having one that looks like an African Amazonian just provides welcome eye candy. Rounding out the crew is Jazz. She’s a bit of a tom boy, but a rigger tends to be a mechanic too. I made sure we had a crew of “meat shields”. The Crazed Outlaws gang knew they were being paid 25,000 nuyen to come, all expenses paid of course, with 75,000 and keeping the weapons we purchased for them upon our return. A good deal, huh? I don’t expect they’’ll survive to collect. Oh well. Sucks to be them.

In the gathering darkness, I set about securing the Arctic Village, a tiny community. I get the crew to bring out the two sentry guns. We unload the snowmobiles and snow cats, then make sure everyone is armed. Well, everyone other than Katai. I swear he must sleep with that assault cannon of his. Jazz is relaxing in one of the large, cargo carrying Ares Dragon helicopters. She picks the one armed like a gunship. She insisted, and Gummy accommodated the request. I’m not sure who would track us down way out here and attack us, but then its not a question of being paranoid or not. More a question of being paranoid enough. And, then to be on the safe side, assume the worst case scenario, and prepare for something ten times worse.

Jazz notices first. She detects it through the helicopter’s sensors and immediately spins up the rotors. Katai, Spitfire, and I know exactly what to do. Katai, a heavy weapons expert, runs into the rear of the cargo Ares Dragon undoubtedly for an anti vehicular weapon. Shortly after the helicopter’s engines turn on, Runs With Caribou, the tiny town mayor and law enforcement officer comes out of the community’s small municipal building. Manifesting beside her are two nature spirits that look like animated trees.

“Lazarus,” she shouts above the helicopter, “what’s going on?”

“Not sure,” I reply. “Jazz, sit rep.”

“Two fast moving vehicles on the radar,” she says over the radio. “They must be really low for me not seeing ’em. We got a couple of minutes. Tops.”

“I got somethin’ for ’em,” Katai says with a hint of evil mischief in his voice.

“Well, sweethearts,” calls Spitfire over the radio, “there’s more bad news. We got armored troopers approaching from the south. Looks like someone knows how to fight in combined arms.”

“Hm, kind of like Yugoslavia,” I say automatically. But then it hits me. I remember my mission in the Balkans!

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The Revelation of Logistics

“Mr. Grummish?” interrupted Dr. Maggie Talley, “I think we need to discuss the logistics of this trip to Alaska.”

“Oh,” said the six foot tall Ork who seemed only slightly distracted by Maggie. He didn’t look up from the large, embedded touch screen conference table.

While he always treated Maggie quietly and kindly… or at least not hostile, she couldn’t shake her first interaction with him. Drenched in the blood of an assassination “wet work” job, but presenting himself as a snobby aristocrat, stuck with her. His idiosyncrasies, like using glasses when he was packed with cyberware that did who-knows-what, tended only to confuse her. Of course, the consistent monotone of his voice left her unsettled, leaving only the impression of no humanity.

“Um, yes,” she continued, “It seems the remoteness of the coordinates will pose a problem. Anchorage is several hundred miles away, a very long haul for a VTOL. The nearest inhabited place is a small town called Arctic Village –“

“Quaint,” Grummish interrupted, still reviewing documents displayed on the table. While his English was fluent, the slight French accent was prominent.

“Uh, yes, quaint,” Maggie continued, “Well, this small village is inhabited by the Gwitch’en Alaskan natives, and most speak only Gwich’en… no English.”

Grummish stood and straightened his dress shirt and tie. Well, at least it’s not covered in blood this time, Maggie thought.

“Surely there are translators? The village must have some bilingual inhabitants to interact with the Alaskan government.” Grummish’s speech had a nonchalant quality, almost like he had no interest in the conversation, and yet he seemed to hear and remember everything.

“That seems likely, but-“

“We do not know who in the village is bilingual.”

“Yes, and-“

“A trivial matter easily resolved when we arrive.”

“But-,“ Maggie asserted, interrupted by Grummish silently looking over his glasses at her, with an expression reminiscent of her father’s “disappointed” face. She decided that the language conversation was over.

“I assume you have more important logistics to discuss?” Grummish asked condescendingly. Maggie had to catch herself before her automatic eye roll occurred.

“Yes,” Maggie continued. “Given the distance, we’ll need to bring multiple VTOLs to carry equipment and gear, including fuel for use there and a return trip. Arctic Village is 55 miles from Mount Isto, the 9,000 foot mountain at the coordinates we found.”

“8,975 feet,” Grummish said plainly.

“What?” Maggie asked given the interruption of her train of thought.

“Mount Isto. 8,975 feet, not 9,000” Maggie stifled another eye roll.

“Um, thanks? Can I continue?” Maggie asked. Grummish nodded. “So, we have to find a way to traverse 55 miles into some very rugged mountains. We could use snowmobiles or snow cats, but that’s more fuel to carry, and we’d need something large enough to transport them. Regardless, the closest we can get to the coordinates is 3 or 4 miles. Then it’s all climbing. We can carry the gear, but I doubt any of us has real skill in using it. To take the easiest path possible, we may need to travel nearly twice the distance to wind our way to the mountain, instead of a direct path.”

“I believe your meandering is leading to the conclusion that we need a guide, lots of equipment, and additional skilled personnel. Am I correct?”

“That’s a concise summary, yes,” Maggie replied. “Though, what do you mean by ‘skilled personnel’? Obviously, we need a guide or guides, pilots,-“

“Skilled personnel refers to those ready and able to fight and kill any threats to our equipment. While I am sure I would manage, though not sure you would, I do not envy a walk of hundreds of miles in harsh terrain during the late fall in Alaska. A possibility that could occur if our pilots, vehicles, fuel, etcetera were attacked.”

“Well, there’s another point,” Maggie continued. “During this time of year there will be more hours of darkness than light. At that latitude, maybe only a few hours of daylight. If you can call the sun hovering at the southern horizon ‘day time’.”

“Scared of the dark are we?” Grummish teased. “I am sure we can handle some darkness. Anything else?”

“No, I think this is enough.”

“Very well,” Grummish said as he turned his attention to the screen in the table. “We can overcome these hurdles.”

Being ignored for several seconds, Maggie began feeling uncomfortable and assumed their conversation was over. Maggie left the conference room and entered a receptionist area just outside. Sitting at the receptionist’s desk was a young woman reading Cosmopolitan. The name “Melissa” was on the desk’s nameplate, tilted askew because of Melissa’s feet pushing it out of place.

“Infuriating, isn’t he?” Melissa said not looking up from the magazine. Maggie managed a slight smile. “Yeah,” Melissa continued, “sometimes I just have to tell him to shut up.”

“Seriously,” Maggie asked in disbelief. “He won’t get offended and gut me like a freshly caught salmon?” Maggie proudly thought of the Alaskan reference.

“Yes, so you can’t tell him that. But I can.”

Maggie furrowed her brow, the confusion of the inconsistent treatment on her face evident.
Melissa smiled. “It’s why I get paid the big bucks.”

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