RUN #12

  • "THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF DOLLS..."

    Starring:

    Booth
    Eli's Character (Tia)
    Expose
    Sequoia
    Sira
    Weaver

    * * * * * * *

    PRELUDE I

    Sira returned to the clinic later that night and discovered that the lock has been busted. In a fit of brash courage Sira decided to venture in, fearing some homeless vagabond was after the expensive drugs kept inside. However, the upper floor of the clinic turned out to be deathly quiet. After 15 minutes of searching Sira quickly determined that nothing was out of the ordinary topside. She then decided to check out the secret underground sickbay where the contaminated blood and Langstrom's notes were stored.

    After cautiously opening the trapdoor, she quietly descended the stairs into the darkness all the while wishing that Mighty Weaver, Spooky Ghoul, or at least Booth were at her side this instant. However she was a Guardian, and had been trained to deal with such eventualities as this. Besides if she chickened out now and ran away, she was sure to catch no end of grief from Rapture. Especially if it turned out to be nothing at all, which of course she convinced herself it was. Reassured, she arrived at the base of the stairs and reached out for the lightpanel, but it failed to activate. She pressed the panel several more times in the darkness, regretting her recklessness in not leaving a light on upstairs. Suddenly, she heard a click off in the darkness followed by an eriee blue flame which silhouetted a familiar face.

    "Need a Light?"

    A scream caught in Sira's throat...

    PRELUDE II

    [The night before]

    In the darkness a figure stirred. Slowly it rose out of it's resting place, feeling the hunger racking it's tortured frame. Quickly it's eyes adjusted to the darkness and it thought this queer. Looking around it sought out the Guardian, but it too was gone like the light. For a brief instant there was a flash of anger as the form extricated itself from it's cold bed. Anger, fear, hunger, always the hungerxbut that had to wait.

    Strange, there were no signs of life from upstairs. Taking time to see that all else was as it should be the dark figured ascended to the upper chambers. There cowering behind the throne was the Guardian.

    "Pumpkin." Jack said in a sweet intoxicating voice. "Where are our guests?"

    The Guardian, didn't pay attention to the voice, but rather glanced at the eyes and then turned away. The insane hunger in those eyes was overpowering. It couldn't find the courage to look at it's master's malevolent presence, let only find voice to speak it's betrayal.

    Seconds passed, which seemed like hours but were in fact only...seconds, no pulse or breath escaped to judge the passing of time. Then insanity erupted as the presence of the Master entered the feeble mind of his servant. It hated this, for the master's mind always left ruin in its wake, but it had been too slow to answer for fear of it's very existence. Now it paid the price.

    "Left! Left! He left! Are you sure not right?" Jack glanced at his left then right foot. Then he spun around and noticed the empty chains hanging from the ceiling. "And took my pet!" Jack screamed and started to dance up and down now in a fury pulling at his crimson hair. He then did a roll, tumble and flip landing upon his throne in the Thinker's pose. A calmness appeared to have come over him, yet it was a deception.

    Before the Guardian had a chance to slink away a hand darted from over the throne and grabbed it by the collar. Jack heaved it over the throne with a casual ease that belied his lithesome frame. Hoisted in the air thus the Guardian was helpless. It shut it's eyes in anticipation for what it knew would happen next.

    When it opened them again, it was seated on the throne! This was sacrilege and it must surely die now it thought. Jack was nowhere to be seen. In sheer terror the Guardian began to rise, but found itself chained to the throne. It started to laugh at it's predicament, that hideous laughter filling the chamber. Then it stopped.

    Jack reappeared out of the darkness sometime later dressed in leather pants, a tropical shirt, labcoat and carrying an umbrella. He smiled toothily and said in an English brogue, "Pumpkin, be a good chap and watch over the estate while I'm out." With a twirl of the umbrella Jack walked over to the heavy tapestry depicting the rights of Samhain. Pulling the Tapestry aside revealed a full-length cracked mirror.

    The distorted mirror cast no reflection, however, but revealed another dark chamber. "And a one, and a two..." Jack pushed his umbrella through the mirror. More cracking could be heard as the glass fissured under the strain. "Snap, crackle, pop!" Jack cackled as her thrust himself through the mirror which shattered into a million crystals.

    The Guardian bowed it's head and began to weep.

    DOWN IN THE BASEMENT

    Booth woke up having had a terrible premonition that Sira was in grave danger. He somehow sensed that she was at the East-End clinic, but was unable to get her on the phone. Dressing in some Euro-vid spy paraphernalia, Booth hustled on over to the clinic. He found the back door open and decided to investigate the darkened interior. Towards the trapdoor leading into the basement he heard a scream.

    Sira let out a scream at the sight of Dr. Camby's disfigured face. Camby related to Sira how he had hoped she would come here while Dr. Langstrom was preoccupied. He needed her for an experiment. Sira decided to bolt up the stairs and ran smack dab into Booth. Terrified, Sira threw a punch to the gut, as both tumbled back down the stairs.

    "Two for the price of one…this must be my lucky night. Close the escape door Velks." Commanded Camby.

    From the shadows Velks moved over to the door and shut it. Booth and Sira recognized this person as the dead Solo from Jack's establishment. Velks promptly tied down Booth and grabbed Sira. Dr. Camby was interested in what effect Sira's nanites would have on a adult Ghoul, so he ordered Velks to touch her with his undead flesh, EWWWWW! Sira was forced to oblige because Camby was holding a revolver to the head of Booth.

    Ghoul flesh encountered Sira's nanites for only the second time, with more bizarre results. In the space of Seconds, Velks went up in flames and turned to ash.

    "I was afraid of that." Camby said in a disheartened tone. "Oh, well back to the drawing board!" And with that he disappeared. Sira went over and cut Booth loose from his bonds. Before Fleeing the Clinic, Sira noted that Camby had absconded with most of Dr. Langstrom's research notes on the Carbon Plague.

    THE BEST LAID PLANS…

    …Should never be entrusted to Ecoraiders! In a brilliant stroke to get back at Fingers, AKA Kestral, AKA Red tag, Weaver plotted with some EcoRaiders to heist a van full of Johnny Blade Merchandise that was destined for the New Harbor MallPlex just in time to replenish the diminishing stocks. Unfortunately, CC#3 reared it's ugly head and things went terribly wrong. Tia who had assisted in the botched ambush got shot to pieces by a couple of stealth AVs that seemed to be shadowing the truck. She barely managed to make it to the clinic before Sira and Booth departed. Needless to say Weaver, was not pleased to discover the next morning that the Truck was not safely secured under his mall. Furthermore, it seemed that word on the street knew of the Eden Cabal's leader's sting operation against former associate Kestral.

    Well on a more positive note Outlette recovered from the Bioplague, however this being CyberPunk, someone HAD to die, so kid Langstrom passed away quietly in the night. Dr. Langstrom chose that moment to disappear, just when her Carbon plague knowledge would be needed the most.

    WEAVER'S LAMENT

    "Oh God, oh God, oh God...I can't believe this has happened! I'm gonna die...he's gonna kill me and throw away the body...I'm gonna go right out that window...No one's EVER gonna find me...he might even...oh god...I can't stand pain...he's gonna...bullet to the head...Blam!! I gotta...I gotta figure some way outta this!"

    "How did everything go so wrong? It was all so perfect just...what? Yesterday morning! Jonny Blade dolls...perfect heist! No WAY Red-Tag was expecting anything...shoulda been a slamdunk, even for a buncha Eco-Raiders! But who'd THINK that some stupid Corporate Vampire Lord, dammit, scumbags would have stashed a secret package on board?! And then he's got Attack AVs following the truck just in CASE someone launches a raid anyway?!! Gimme a break...that's TOTAL overkill!!! Doesn't ANYONE try to live within a BUDGET?!!!"

    "So the Eco-Raiders hate me 'cuz I MUST'A known that this was all gonna happen...oh RIGHT!!! Like THAT makes sense! But Sequoia...thank GOD!!...manages to survive and gets holed up WITH the goods in a BioTech Lab (GM: Actually it was ChemCorp, can't trust everything you hear on the streets) warehouse...the stupid MASTERMINDS behind the whole stupid, totally unfair AVs and even the NIGHTSTALKERS, fr' cryin' out loud!!! They got Killer-Euro-Solo's in here!!! (GM: Nightstalkers were mysteriously recalled, see Biotech Interlude) And *I* can't figure out from all'a this that there's something going on a HELLUVA lot more important than a shipment of toys?! GEEZ!!! So we go in to try and get 'em out and is she (Sequoia) in the least grateful?! NO!! I have to crawl through death-dealing lasers and explosives and somehow MANAGE not to get blown up or shot to bits and bring the others in with me and she is STILL "Oh, it's ALL your fault, you sniveling Greed-Hound!!!"

    "And just because *I* didn't lose sight of the overall mission to TRY and get as much of the goods out as possible, she gets all totally unreasonable. Constantly it's the "MY people died for these stupid TOYS!" routine and she DOESN'T want to calm down and hear that the attack was total Ripley's and that HER people took the risk for the stuff THEY wanted to do in MY mall (GM: EcoRaiders struck a deal to help Weaver out in this heist for the opportunity to put an arboretum in his Mall). Knock it OFF that it was all some kinda personal favor!!"

    "So then she ruins EVERYTHING and makes certain that everyone died for NOTHING by throwing all the stupid merchandise OUT the window (GM: A regiment of Biotechnica Corp Security had encircled the place, but were under orders not to go in until the next dawn). I shoulda strangled her when I had the chance!! And then people start shootin' at us while we're lying on top of all the tossed out packaging after I threw her AND me out the window! Oh my GOD, we SCRUNCHED all the packaging!!! I can't believe I was only able to grab five measly dolls before I could jump back through the window! And God, why didn't they just shoot me right then? (GM: Because you have a cruel and sadistic GM?)

    "So we somehow manage to get out of this House of Death through their waste drainage and breath real air again!! Then it's back to the mall and I should never LEAVE again, and EVERYBODY seems to know that I masterminded the truck heist and EVERYBODY seems to think that I'm the head of the Eden forgodsake Cabal and EVERYBODY'S telling me that there are vampires and dead solos and freaks with pumpkins on their heads walking around and threatening to attack at any moment!!! Leave ME alone"

    "One measly snippet of good news what with Outlette managing to pull through the Carbon Plague which means that of course...of COURSE...Dr. Langstrom's kid's gotta die from it. I mean, we gotta have cosmic symmetry...right?! And then the DOLL! For god's sake...doesn't ANYBODY want to pull a deal and keep me OUT of it for once?! EVER?!!! Booth found it in the truck that had the Jonny Blades that got scrunched and shot and impounded and brought it out and then brings it to me (GM: Booth found a secret compartment in the delivery truck that had a featureless black case. Inside was a beautiful antique doll). But it's just a doll...it's JUST a doll!! Nothing special about the packaging either, even though ANOTHER stupid "vampire" couldn't TOUCH it for some God-Knows-Why reason!! Is there maybe SOMEthing going on here that SOMEbody's not TELLING me about?!! But there's no traps, no springs, no hidden compartments, no nothing!!! It's JUST an old but probably valuable Collector's DOLL!!!"

    "Absolutely...it's a TOTAL coincidence that some corporate AVs happened to be flying by and felt it was their civic duty to stop a truck hijacking!! And all the cops surrounding the waterfront and the Nightstalkers and mercenaries surrounding the warehouse and the dead Rescue Team (GM: Gaia sent in a strike team in to try and rescus Sequoia) from that food corporation and all the pricey ordnance and sensors and stuff?!! IGNORE it...probably NOTHIN...it all must have been about SOME-thing else because THIS...is JUST...a DOLL!!!"

    "It totally freaks me out that after what she did to me that later on that STUPID Sequoia had the NERVE to come into MY mall after trashing MY merchandise to tear up the tiles so that she could plant HER trees because *SHE'D*fulfilled*HER*part*of*the*bargain!!!* And it totally freaks me out that I never found out just WHO she was even though I knew she came from Old Euro!! And I can't believe I threw the daughter of Gaia Corp's President, the biggest supplier of food stuffs in the WORLD, outta MY mall and totally pissed her off!!! That was SOOOOO smart!!! I am SUCH a TOTAL businessman!!!"

    "So I figure...hey, the doll's gotta be worth some Euro, right? Must be at least a few grand in it...never mind that three grand doesn't buy freakin' GAS for a buncha AVs!!!!! Looks like there's some kinda Doll Store at the New Harbor Mall and Booth went to check it out and noticed Mrs. Hernandez...the BOSS' WIFE...kinda sniffing around there. Could SHE be INVOLVED?!! Oh yeah...just MAYBE!!! And is it gonna be worth any slack that I called the boss FIRST before we went to see her (GM: Weaver thought it waise to bring the doll to her to see if she could decipher it's significance). NO...FREAKIN'...WAY!!!"

    "An' alla the time heading over there and alla the time in front of the building I'm hearing Sira saying, "OOOoooo, the doll is EVIL, Weaver!! A lotta people have DIED over it and it's JUST a DOLL and they DIED, Weaver, and it's EVIL and you should kill it, Weaver, kill it and destroy it cuz it's EVIL EVIL EVIL!!!!!" We got REAL footage on the building's cameras of me pushing her away and siccing the guards on her and totally ignoring her and all this, it's evil...Evil...EVIL!!! stuff! Cripes...what's WRONG with saying something like, "Hey Weave, I'm gettin' bad vibes from my, eh, nanites over this doll thing...maybe it's some kinda biological weapon since Biotech's involved, yknow?" But Neh...probably get better results frothing out the mouth and running around like a raging lunatic! Yeah, THAT'LL get people to toss away a few thousand bucks wortha porcelain and fabric!!

    "Lame-ass, clumsy LUZER-GIRL!!! You couldn't tackle a stupid little kid like ME just ONCE and TAKE the stupid package outta my grubby fingers and stomp the hellish thing into dust?!! I thought you used to be a GUARDIAN...what the HELL'S the matter with you?!!"

    "Total GENIUS me with all that deep introspection!! Ohhhh, it just doesn't make SENSE that anyone would go to ALL this trouble JUST to kill the BOSS' WIFE!!! But it's the BOSS' WIFE you stupid, idiot, Mallbrat-Geek-LUZER!! Would it have KILLED you to have called up Mr. Ferret and said something like, "Hey boss, we're gettin' bad vibes from this doll and it all involves Biotech and there are these vampires, see, and they don't want to go near it and *I* just can't think of ANYone who would want to hurt your wife or spend like maybe over a million bucks to hurt your wife or anything like that but, you know, uhmmm...can YOU?"

    "Yeah, y'know Deadboy...maybe just MAYBE there's some stuff goin' on around here that MAYBE you don't KNOW anything about!! But when it's the BOSS' WIFE maybe you DON'T wanna be wastin' a buncha time thinkin that last month's Cellular Bill was too HIGH, huh?!"

    "Dammit Booth!! Whassamatter, you couldn't just WHAK me in the back of the head and throw the stupid Doll of Death out the STUPID window?!! Oh yeah, would'a been a REAL big struggle, huh?!! Ohhhh, but then you wouldn't be able to look at me and say, "I toldja so!" just before they put GUNS to the back of our heads!!!"

    Oh GOD...it was ME that handed her the STUPID doll!!! And just like THAT, she gets all sweaty...weak-kneed...sickly...collapsing!!! Do SOMETHING, fr' God's sake, Sira!!!! Don't just STAND there...don't you know this is the BOSS' WIFE, fr' God's sake!!!! Alarms are going off...emergency phone calls!...medical teams are here in moments!!! Oh GOD, that's Mr. Ferret and...and Guido and she's STILL lying on the floor and not moving. Heal her Sira...HEAL!!! Get those nanites GOING!!

    She doesn't die...she's in a coma...the Med-Team freezes her and takes her away!! Mr. Ferret looks at me like the Lord of Death and I pass out. Oh yeah...bet THAT was a real good move! When I wake up he's gone but Guido's still here and he's got guns and he's looking at me like, "Hey kid, y'know, I always hated ya and I liked breakin' your thumbs and all, but it was mainly just business, y'know, and this is all just too bad, and, y'know, when the boss tells me to do whatever it is he wants me to do, y'know, kill you or cripple you or cripple and THEN kill you or whatever, y'know, even if I LIKE doin' it, y'know, it's just my job, right? No hard feelings..."

    "There's gotta...there's just GOTTA be a way outta this...there's gotta be somethin' I can do...!"

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    Last Updated: January 30, 1998

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