The following sequence was inspired by a session of the Feng Shui roleplaying game from several years ago. I was reminded of it when I was doing a first read-through of my newly arrived copy of Hollowpoint. I remain a fan of Robin Laws, but I think the guys at VCSA are taking both the genre and this mode of storytelling to new heights with their new game.
It was a simple plan: drive a big van loaded with ten billion dollars and a few hundred pounds of explosives from one end of Burrard Street to the other. As it turns out, it wasn’t that simple… then again, it never is…
Neon tattoos writhing in the dark, the young gang-banger grinned ear-to-ear as he hit a lever and the hidden vehicle entrance slid open. A quick salute, then he blended back into the darkness of the Underground.
Returning the salute, Mason put the old van into gear, grimacing as the transmission made complaining noises. “Where the hell did they dig up a manual transmission in 2070?” he sub-vocalized over his PAN to Isaac.
“No idea man, but all she has to do is hold together ’til we can get to the Toyota building,” Isaac replied from his position behind the van.
“Easy for you to say, that Barracuda’s like a fucking tank.”
The van started picking up speed and Mason laid on the horn to scatter a few surprised pedestrians. This part of the West End probably hadn’t seen non-police vehicle-traffic for years and people’s reactions showed it.
“Alright, here we go,” Mason muttered to himself. He shifted up another gear and hit the gas, just managing to get some tire-squeal as he made the corner onto Burrard. Isaac swung the Barracuda around behind the van, keeping about 20 metres between them. According to his PAN’s heads-up-display, the bots he wrote the other night were still managing to suppress all reports to local security about vehicles in the West End.
“Looks like we’ll get past Toyota security without a hitch,” Isaac reported. “So far so good.”
Neither of them saw where he came from, but the cyborg made quite the impact as he slammed into the side of the van.
“Holy shit! Maybe not.”
Metal screamed as the cyborg’s titanium hands crushed through the van’s frame and tore the passenger door off. Isaac just barely managed to swerve out of the way as the attacker tossed the door like a frisbee at the Barracuda’s windshield. Kicking in his reflex enhancers, Mason took in the cyborg’s appearance with a quick glance. Bright red LED-style eyes stared out of a metallic skull; a metal hand reached for one of two heavy-calibre SMGs strapped to thighs over kevlar combat gear. This guy was gonna be a serious problem.
Fortunately, Mason had a solution to this kind of problem – a Mass-Intertech 7.62mm solution. He grabbed “Bessie” off the passenger seat and ripped off a tight one-handed burst. Mason was fast, but the ‘borg kept up. Only a single round actually made impact before the barrel of the assault rifle was batted away. The rest of the burst did some serious damage to the windshield and a nearby office building, but the cyborg seemed unfazed.
“I wonder if the kids these days even know who Arnie was?” commented Mason, as he dropped Bessie to the seat, drew one of his automags and started blasting away at the Terminator look-a-like.
“I think you’re the only person in the world who has time to think about shit like that during a gun-fight,” replied Isaac as he pushed the accelerator to the floor. He grinned in spite of himself as the Barracuda laid a patch at 60 km/hour. Steering with his knees, Eyes drew his matched Skorpions and popped his head and shoulders up through the ‘cuda’s sunroof. As the car pulled alongside the embattled van, he burnt a full clip from each gun into the cyborg’s back. Even titanium body plating has its limits and the bursts left the Terminator dangling from the van’s door frame by his one functioning arm.
Squinting through the blood and machine fluid, Mason cocked Bessie’s under-barrel grenade launcher and put an HE round right down the cyborg’s throat. Isaac just managed to duck back into the car before both vehicles were peppered by thousands of supersonic cyborg-bits.
“He won’t be back.”
Isaac would have laughed, but he got a little distracted by a pale blur that coalesced above the Barracuda and landed gently astride the sunroof. Though he didn’t have time to double check, Isaac was pretty sure the little Asian man’s white suit wasn’t even ruffled.
“Oh shit, not this guy again!” Isaac slammed the accelerator and swerved toward a low-hanging neon sign. The man in the white suit paused for a moment, then leapt into the air – executing a quadruple flip over the obstruction and once again landing gently on the car’s roof.
With unbelievable speed, Mason jammed Bessie through the van’s steering wheel, wedging her barrel against the gas pedal. He coiled his legs, kicked out the windshield and leapt toward the Barracuda, drawing two automags on the way. His impact nearly crushed the car’s hood, but the armour plating held up and he started shooting.
“Uh, Mace, who’s driving the van?” asked Isaac over his PAN.
“Bessie’s got it,” replied Mason.
“Oooh, shit.” Isaac pulled the car up beside the van and nudged it just in time to keep it from heading into a crowd of people on the sidewalk.
Either Mason’s aim was uncharacteristically effected by the swerving vehicle, or the man in white could dodge bullets; because even from just a few feet away, not a single round from the automags managed to connect. After trading bullets and punches for a few seconds, Mace realized he was no match for this guy at close quarters. Firing a few shots to keep his opponent off balance, Mace dove forward, reached through the sunroof, grabbed a seatbelt and yanked the e-brake. The man in white executed another of his quadruple flips – this time away from Eyes and Mace – and landed on the roof of the van.
“Oh, no you don’t!” yelled Mason as he leapt into the air himself. Mason just barely managed to keep his balance as he landed on the van’s hood, but the effort didn’t effect his aim this time and at least one bullet made a red stain on the otherwise pristine white suit.
The melee was now passing Georgia Street – only a few blocks before impact and the van was starting pull off the road again. Still firing as he twisted, Mason dove through the absent windshield and dropped perfectly behind the wheel. Tossing Bessie onto the passenger seat, Mace banged up onto a curb and jerked the steering wheel, taking the van onto two wheels.
The man in white casually shifted his stance and rebalanced on the cab of the van.
“How the hell does he do that?” cursed Mason. “Guess we’ll have to take this up a notch.”
Mason whipped the steering wheel around again and the van catapulted into the air, making a full rotation before bouncing and slamming back onto all four tires, still facing down Burrard.
“Where’d he go?” yelled Mason.
“Got him,” reported Isaac, “50 metres back, on the west side of the road.”
“Very nice. Let’s finish this.”
Mason made the turn from Burrard onto Canada Place at over 50 klicks, struggling to force the ancient, abused suspension to hold onto the pavement. By the time he hit the disguised ramp in front of the Toyota building, the van was doing 110.
“Well, at least this part is going according to plan,” thought Isaac, as he smoothly accelerated alongside the now airborne van. He whipped the Barracuda into a tight 180, shifting into reverse and pacing the van. Mason glanced down at the car and jumped, dropping heavily into the passenger seat.
The car slid to a stop just as the van impacted the second story of the Toyota building. Exactly on time, the C4 detonated, disintegrating most of the first 3 floors of the office tower and showering the neighbourhood with flaming bank notes.
“They wanted their money back – now they’ve got it,” said Mason.
As Isaac brought them back onto Burrard, Mason disengaged his reflex enhancers. Seeing the man in white still standing on the sidewalk ahead, he reached into his vest and popped three cigarettes into his mouth, lighting them all with a single swipe of his Zippo. As they passed the man in white, Mason flicked a lit cigarette out the sunroof. The man in white watched the cigarette spin through the air toward him, caught it, nodded solemnly in their direction and took a puff.
“I think we might meet him again.”