Kane disabled the wards and silenced the spirits through sheer muscle memory and the force of routine, his attention uncharacteristically lacking and his body bruised and covered in scabs and dried blood. The hangar was dark, all of the cabinets, benches, and vehicles were covered in tarps, and there was a thick layer of dust on everything.
Home Sweet Home he thought bitterly as he threw the switch for the gigantic overhead lights.
With a series of echoing clanks the massive light fixtures came on, one at a time in sequence, scattering the shadows in the hangar.
The tall, lanky elf leaned wearily against a covered workbench, exhaustion and grief momentarily overtaking him, and without preamble a sound escaped him, something between a growl and a sob, before his discipline and willpower reasserted themselves and he took a deep, shuddering breath. A moment later he was the picture of stoicism and control.
Time to go to work he told himself as he pulled the tarps from his equipment, dust swirling into the air and drifting into the bright lights.
He sits in the back compartment of the rigger’s van, uncomfortable and still exhausted, despite having slept fitfully during the trip. He glances around at the group, studying their features one at a time. They are all serious, but with a noticeable excitement and, yes, even levity. There are the inevitable inside jokes and wisecracks among a group of operators who have worked together for some time, however Kane simply doesn’t have it in him to join in. He had hoped to get together with them at some point, to share in the bond that they’d formed during what they’d accomplished together. But not like this.
We saved the fucking world he thinks angrily, It was supposed to be different! He runs his hand through his fine, silvery hair. I got the girl for once, I was living the dream, I fucking deserved it!
Another deep sigh, and he forces himself to focus on the task at hand. Stay on mission Kane he reminds himself Let’s not get yourself geeked before we can put together what the hell Laz was trying to tell me. He gave him a hard time fairly regularly, but they’d been partners for a long time and while he might have been the least-organized and most-paranoid dude he knew, he was loyal. And loyalty is something that can’t be bought, can’t be replaced. It’s truly priceless.
He glances over at Sunder. Annoying, asshole, aggravating, but possibly the best wizard in the world. Well, second best maybe. He smiles slightly. And the absolute best ritual partner he’d ever had. They, the two of them, had performed the lion’s share of the magic which had destroyed the ancient spirit they’d called Bill, and subsequently saved the fucking world. It sounds ridiculously dramatic and over-the-top, but it’s true. At the end of the day, Sunder, too, was a loyal friend.
Dana, “the secretary”. Probably the most dangerous woman on the planet, and without the slightest shred of a conscience, but she was also … a loyal friend.
Kirah and Zee, both newer companions, but very dangerous in their own right, and they’d stayed the course and amply demonstrated their own loyalty, both to the team and the whole world.
Everyone had been hit, to varying degrees, but none had lost what he had. Every time he closed his eyes he saw her. Her lifeless body partially covered by the slabs of concrete which had killed her, and her dark, empty eyes, staring at him in pain and shock. The aircraft, bristling with missiles, circling back around for the killshot. Whoever had come for him had missed, they’d underestimated his skills, but they’d killed his Mei Lung.
They’d managed to find and rescue that scary motherfucker Grummish, along with Katherine and Galgoo earlier, but very shortly afterwards, they had gone their own way. Whatever was going on was pretty widespread, with most of the top-level runners and operators being clipped or going into hiding, but they’d killed his Mei Lung.
When he found whoever was responsible, he was going to fucking murder them. Blood called out to blood, and he was going to bathe in it.
He opened the dusty screen of his communication array and punched in a number. The visage of Dragon appeared, but her usual smirk was gone. “I wondered if I’d hear from you guys, or if they’d gotten you too.”
“They didn’t get me, no. And they’re really going to wish they had. I need information, Dragon. Sensitive, potentially incendiary shit. I want to know who did this to me. To her.”
“Kane, you know that I’m really, really expensive on a good day. This is a whole other level.”
“How does a million nuyen sound?”
Her eyes widened slightly. “I’ll see what I can find out.” And the connection went dark.
The plane bounces slightly as its wheels touch down on the weathered and worn tarmac of the Cuban airstrip. Kane grimaces a little and he mutters “Fucking new guy”
Kane reaches into his armored duster’s pocket and pulls out the “gorilla mask”, the shimmering fabric seeming to shift and swirl. Time to go to work.