I'm never eating ice cream again.
That's how this run began. With ice cream. Panda's fixer had set up a meet with Mr Wu at Emac & Bolios, a Central ice cream parlour, and to bring some help. Stardust, Spook, Sailor Van and yours truly were the last people she ran with, and I guess that put us at the top of her list.
Gunhaver says you never walk into a meet blind, so I like to get to any meeting place early and scope it out. You've got to be some kind of burnt out chip-head to try anything Downtown; you'd have knights on you like a Ghede Fly on drek in seconds, but it never hurts to be cautious.
By the time everyone else showed, I’d satisfied myself the meet wasn’t a set up. The others arrived on time, punctual and dressed for Business. At least, I think Stardust was dressed for Business. I'm actually not sure. She did look nice, though. I mean, you know, if you took the time to notice. I only did because I know the importance of being alert. Personally, I like to take utility over style. Not to say I don't have style, and not to say Stardust doesn't make style work for her.
Anyway, it's not important. I don't even know why I mentioned it. Whatever. Back to the run.
Panda's contact had given her a code phrase to signal we were there for the meet. She was to go in, order a particular sundae, and then she'd be shown to Mr Wu, apparently we also ordered a real sundae, because we soon had ourselves a seat at a booth with one Mr Wu and the biggest sundae I've ever seen. We're talking the Aztech Northwest of sundaes. I had a little. It was good. It's also the last ice cream I plan on ever eating. But as far as last ice creams go, it was wiz.
But just because I wasn't going to eat any more ice cream doesn't mean I wasn't going to see a lot more ice cream in my future. Mr Wu wanted a snatch and grab of a new super-secret ice cream flavour developed by Happy Cow. After we retrieved the formula, deleted all records, (and a sample for a bonus,) we’d make a hand-off to another team by dawn on Friday morning. One more rule: no fragging the labs and no scientist splat-jobs.
Happy Cow does their research on an island between Hong Kong and Macau, making access (and escape) one more challenge on our long list of complications. Still, nothing a handful of professionals can't handle and I am nothing if not professional. It's true. I make my money this way, so by definition, I am a professional. Take that, JackPoint. Who's the fun runner now? Not me, that's for sure.
Having given us a target, a location and a timeframe (two days), Mr Wu excused himself and left us to plan. A wise Cracoktage once said, "Runners who don't do legwork, are runners who end up in the dirt (Wuhuhahe.”) The plan we came up with was safe in its simplicity. We get some intel, we get some disguises, we get some non-lethal ammunition, we get a boat, we steal some ice cream. Sounds like a milkrun to me, omae. Well, the ice cream we were stealing was dairy free, but aint no rules saying you can't do a dairy free milkrun!
Oh man, that joke never gets old.
We split off at that point. Spook and Panda went to go chat with their contacts, and I went to talk to Mr Choi. I needed some gel rounds and I needed them in a hurry, but when I walked into the shop, he had far more pressing concerns. Namely, my pants, or what he considered an insufficient amount of pants. You know, a girl just doesn't get any appreciation for the effort she goes to in order to A) Find denim shorts with this kind of stretch and flexibility, B) Squeeze her fashion unfriendly dwarven thighs into said stretch denim, C) brave motorcycle travel and urban exploration without the slightest regard for the personal safety of her knees. Still, if Mr Choi wants to stitch me up some pity‑pants, I don't mind. While he took measurements and examined fabrics, I explained my rapid need for gel rounds in a variety of forms, enough for me, Panda and Spook. Sailor Van prefers to punch things and Stardust has her own impressive way of dealing with problems. Mr Choi could do it, of course, but he needed a little extra to grease the wheels. I try not to argue with Mr Choi, and paid him the grease he needed.
We also used hats as a euphemism for bullets. I don't think it worked. We'll try something else, next time. Nobody needs 40 heavy pistol gel hats. Maybe socks? Socks might work. Nice thinking, omae.
I let the others know I'd succeeded, and Spook and Panda announced a similar success with their contacts. Stardust mentioned she was heading down to the magic market to speak to a talismongre she knew. I've been wanting an in with a talismongre for some time, now, so I decided to tag along.
The fetishwoman had a nice little shop, and she was as chummy as they come. Stardust only bought some reagents and I asked about the possibility of qi foci once I'm a little more cashed up. She said she could oblige when the time came. We made some small talk until it was time to regroup.
Panda had and moused around the Matrix and dug some general information about Happy Cow. Spook had his contact putting together a corporate profile. Sailor Van had booked us a boat large enough to take us all out to the Happy Cow facility. All that remained was to do some scouting. Sailor Van drove the boat and knew the waters, so she went to scout, Stardust is our astral perceiver and projector in residence, so she went, and Panda, believe it or not, is wiz with a deck, so she went to check the digital opposition.
That left Spook and I waiting by Sailor Van's boat house. We had plenty of time to kill, so I gave him a quick recap of all 9 past seasons of Gunhaver and The Shadow Commandos. He kept telling me that the show is inaccurate, but Gunhaver has been a shadowrunner for decades and I think Spook is still kind of new. It's okay. He's not the only one. We've all got to start somewhere.
HEAR THAT JACKPOINT? YOU DON'T NEED TO TREAT THE NEWBIES LIKE DREK!
I don't know what happened out on the boat, but Stardust, Panda and Sailor Van all came back with few new problems to suss. Happy Cow's facility only took up part of the island and the rest was used by other corporations, and outside the built docks, the island was edged by cliffs, meaning no quiet access short of climbing. Security was tight: zonies inside, bargheist outside, and air drones on standby. We really were breaking into a tiny ice cream fortress. All non-security staff left the island by company ferry just before sunset. Astral wards kept magic spies out, and the island was covered by a local grid only, making connecting from anywhere but the island itself impossible.
But we're professionals, after all, and there's no challenge too big for five professional runners. Well, okay, those cliffs were a problem, but other than a sheer cliff face or two, null sweat. Best of all, I had a cunning plan (aw yeah, classic flatvid quote dropped at the last minute. If you don't get it, try visiting a library once in a while, bakebrain.)
Nothing more we could do tonight, but I told Stardust to meet me bright and early at Mr Choi's store.