Dateline: September 20, 2050, 11:25
Over the past few days, the Edgerunners have been hired by a shady maybe-fighting-pit owner/manager, maybe-accountant to rescue his maybe-sister/maybe-biotech-enhanced-pit-fighter, hit in the face (twice), interrogated and scoped out a church for a burgling, and nearly murdered one of their best leads then brought him to a hospital to get patched up. The life of an Edgerunner is never dull.
After Twinkletoes and Animal, two pitfighters who were witnesses to the abduction whom the team promptly attempted to kill upon meeting them (mind you, that meeting was catalyzed by a metal fist to an already-broken nose), were brought to the hospital, the team split up. Wormwood stayed in the hospital, getting tended to by a doctor – male, luckily for him – and his nose was reset. He spent the time contemplating his bill trying to narrow down the girl from Amon Zero – successfully, he thinks. Maybe. He’s not really sure, but at least he’s got a name and an address – somewhere to start.
Candyman and Mei, meanwhile, made a bit better usage of their time. Candy was able to contact the Edgerunner’s employer, Benjamin – though it was a bear and a half, and Benjamin dodged any attempt Candy could make for a physical meeting, asking them to contact him when they have his sister or solid information, and only then – saying he didn’t want to get his hopes up. Candy was able to secure a figure for their services, however – $170,000 for the girl, safe and sound, or half that for her location.
Mei spent her time browsing through Cyberspace, researching those the Edgerunners have met along the way. Archivist Studour checked out – everything the team had uncovered at the Archive seemed to hold up, though he appeared to have quit his previous job under a bit of a cloud – something to do with a botched futures trade of some kind costing the company billions. Eleanor she could find little of – she was the daughter of a lower-class Glitterati family who bucked the trends and joined the Night City Police Force. She abruptly quit, or took an extended leave, two years ago. She was a model officer up until that time; nothing she can find points to why Eleanor quit, unfortunately, or what she’s been doing since.
Information on Benjamin started off pretty similar – the employer’s story seemed to check out, even the images of Ben and Eleanor together showed the people they were expecting. And then Mei came upon one story in particular that had apparently been damned-near buried – it was on a single website, and she couldn’t find any matching articles elsewhere; it was either a falsification or something swept the web clean of other mentions and this one was somehow left in. It was a news report on a donation to a muscular dystrophy foundation, now operated by the Umbra Corporation, dedicated to Benjamin Sanders – but the donation clearly read ‘In Memoriam Of’ Benjamin Sanders.
Mei had little to no luck with tracking down the mysterious drug the team found in Eleanor’s rented no-tell motel room; there were just too many possibilities, and an unlabeled vial isn’t much to go on. Candyman was able to do a little better, entrusting the vial to a woman he knew – a surgeon specializing in cyberware and human augmentation technologies. It is from her that a recent message was sent, requesting Candyman’s presence at the W. Hartnell Community Hospital.
Now the team stands in a laboratory room in the deeps of the hospital, Dr. Vano in front of them before a computer terminal, a bioanalyzer machine hooked up to it. As the rest of the team watch, Pitbull with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips, Candyman approaches the Doctor. “Thanks for meeting us on such short notice Dr. Vano. How is Tabitha doing, she’s what, in third grade this year. Growing up fast.” “Hopefully this analysis will shed some light on our mystery.” Mei adds, clearly running her language software. Dr. Elsbeth Vano look sup from the chemical display on the terminal before her and smiles up at Candy. “Thank you, Cy-Candy. You know I can’t ever repay you for her. Tabi’s having a little trouble getting used to her kindercomp, but she was so excited to get it implanted – her first ‘big girl’ implant.” She shakes her head slightly. “But what have you given me, C? This…” Dr. Vano shakes her head, her long blond hair fighting against the bun she put it in. “I’m not an epidemiologist, but the Red Plague out at Cargotown – it’s been the talk of the halls here. And now people outside the Zone are being reported sick. We have two cases in the hospital right now, and I don’t know how long they’ll last.”
Candy gives a quizzical shrug, “Not sure myself, we are working on a missing persons case at the moment and this turned up at one of the last known whereabouts. It seems the individual had a fighting hobby on the side, does it relate to that in any way?” Vano raises her well-manicured eyebrow at that, the trace of electric circuitry receding into her eye catching the light. “A fighting hobby? That… could explain things.”
A trace of alarm races across Candy’s countenance as he realizes what the doctor is implying, “This is some kind of plague sample? I thought it might be a performance enhancer or the like. This job just keeps getting weirder.” The Doc shakes her head, tiredly, then explains, “The Red Plague – it’s a genetically engineered virus, that much we know. Based on the common cold, but that’s just a vector for the retrovirus, which goes in and starts rewriting the patient’s DNA. This isn’t a sample of the plague, C. It’s a stabilizing agent.”
The rest of the team have largely been ignoring the two, subvocally discussing the possible-imposter Anderson/Sanders over the team comm-net. They’ve been trying to work out the various possible connections and subterfuges, while talking about ways to get their money from their duplicitous client – ways that include killing him and taking possession of his luxury AV. Likewise, Candy and the doctor have been ignoring the team’s lunacy, people grinning and laughing for seemingly no reason are a staple feature of modern society and its mastoid communications. This exchange, however, causes every head to whip around as Candyman asks, “So our clients lost relative has the plague and this is a substance that prevents further genetic degradation. This agent is something new I take it, probably has side effects?” the doctor nods, “It interacts with the plague virus, keeping parts of it under control, activating other parts. It guides the virus along pre-determined paths.” Vano’s eyes go cold, literally turning a deep blue from their typical brown to mark her mood. A 21st century mood ring.
“Which paths, Doc?” Wormwood asks from his seat at the back of the room?
Dr. Vano’s head shakes and she puts the vial down. “I don’t know. We can see aspects of it activating or deactivating when we inject both into a sample, but what they actually do?” She shrugs. “We don’t have enough experience with this virus yet, and it doesn’t match anything in the databases. Even the typical manufacturer’s information isn’t there, which means either it was created with an extremely old genetic sequencer or someone’s trying to hide who made it. And all the plague samples seem corrupted somehow – someone either altered it or it was bashed together by an idiot.” Garrion asks, “So you have to get the Plague first and then this thing kicks in or it has active virus in it? Could something from this have turned contagious and be the cause for people getting sick?” but the doc shakes her head again, “The vial itself has no virus in it; it’s purely a catalyst.”
Candy, again on the team’s private channel, sends, “Based on the descriptions of those that nabbed her and this plague angle, I’d say our target’s in Cargotown. That place is as dangerous as they come, we’re going to need some major prep to go in there and I’d prefer if we were not blind. Unfortunately, my eyes and ears run up well short of that district,” as Garrion continues speaking to the doctor. She quickly establishes for him that the virus and this stabilizing drug are definitely connected, but that the drug is essentially worthless without the virus itself. Garrion subvocalizes to his teammates, “If this is connected to Umbra I wouldn’t put it past them to cause the plague too just to have test subjects.”
“I know this is an insane thought, so take it as such, but could we perhaps offer it to the two patients whom are dying – an experimental procedure and have them sign some papers to keep you all in the clear? It might save them, from the sounds of it our client’s sister has been alive for some time with this stuff.” Candy says with all seriousness, at which Wormwood touches Candy on the shoulder and murmurs in his ear, “Y’know we have to go to Cargotown, right? What if one of us catches this plague?” Candy whispers back, “Knowing what this substance does could be a good security blanket,” as Wormwood turns to Dr. Vano, “Doc, could you make more of this stuff from this sample as a template?”
The doctor doesn’t answer at first. All this time Pitbull has been looking over the room, scoping potential cover, locking his eyes on immediately obvious improvised weapons, but he has just now locked eyes with Vano and smiled as harmlessly as he can manage. Vano glances up at Pitbull, then glances down at her hands, playing with her well-manicured fingers for a moment – before the hand suddenly morphs before his eyes, bending and shrinking and falling back into her wrist. In its place is a small suite of surgical tools – including what he nearly instantly recognizes is a surgical laser scalpel. Not much reach, but within a few yards that thing’s bloody lethal – he saw one medic gut a ‘terrorist’ back down South, cauterizing the wound with the scalpel enough that he’d survive a few weeks with his intestines hanging half out of his body. Then, she startles out of her intensity and turns, “We can manufacture more, yes. In fact, I already took the liberty of running a few samples off. We’re testing it on some genetic matches for the two patients already. We aren’t really sure what effect it will have – so far, the growths have become slightly less tumorous, and the respiratory tissue has been left mostly intact – but it’s still not going quite right.” Candy tries to put up a weak smile, “Seems we might need to go into Cargotown after this girl, keep me in the loop as to the status of this substance. God forbid, but one of use might need it later.”
“Wow, Cargotown… we need to go loaded for bear in there…” Pacoy whispers as Garrion asks, “Oh by the way, how is this virus transmitted?” The doctor answers, “It’s based on the common cold – aerosolized saliva, direct physical contact. Bodily liquids. If this was intended as an augmentation project, I’m afraid it was a failed one. The heart muscle… well, it exploded. Grew much too fast in too short a time. So far, there’s only been a twenty-percent death rate, and that’s mostly from malnutrition. The plague itself may do some horrible things to your body, but it’s not nearly as lethal as something like Ebola. We’re working on a proper vaccine, but there’s no telling when that’ll be ready.”
“A Heart-exploding retrotrigger transferred on a virus based of the common cold? Man, just what I wanted to hear…” Pacoy says quietly aloud, rolling his eyes. Pitbull growls a low chuckle. Garrion asks, “So what does the virus do exactly, just make you puke your guts up?” to which Pacoy mutters, “Heart explodey, unnatural growth. That kind of stuff”.
Candyman stays on the point, “What if the patient had an bioware heart, would a decentralized heart prevent such a fatality. It could be made with such problems in mind and worked around?” The doctor shrugs. “Maybe. Or we could have just had the dosage wrong. We’re doing things by ear here.” “Thanks Dr. Vano. This gives us a lot to think on. We have some other things to see to this afternoon and time is always the core issue in a missing person case. I’ll let you know how things turn out and I hope the next time I call, I’m not dying of the plague.” Dr. Vano shakes Candyman’s hand. “Always a pleasure, C.” She turns to Garrion. “Coma. Dramatic genetic changes resulting in extreme hormone imbalance. Tumors and cancerous growths in the long term are an almost certainty. Dramatically increased metabolism and cell division rate, resulting in increased growth. Eventually, we think the coma state will disperse once the genetic changes resolve themselves, but we haven’t studied a patient long enough to be sure. There are reports of those from Cargotown that have contracted the virus and are now awake and living, however.”
As Candyman exits, sending a message to the team that he’s going to look in on Animal and Twinkletoes, Mei has one last question for the doctor, “Elsbeth, there are two patients here with the virus currently – but there have been more in the past correct? Would it be possible to check security footage to see if they’ve had any visitors?” Elsbeth shakes her head. “We haven’t had any cases or reports of this virus until the outbreak – those are the first two patients with it that we’ve had here.” A disappointed look crosses Mei’s face. “I see, and when did the outbreak occur?” The doctor just shrugs. “That’s very hard to say. It started in Cargotown, and you know that combat zones aren’t exactly well-suited to delivering handy medical stats. But our epidemiologist thinks it may have been as little as two or three weeks ago. The recent riots over the wall really haven’t helped matters, either.” : “I see. Still, it is useful information. Thank you.” Mei smiles at the doctor before leaving to follow Candy to check on the fighters, following the rest of the team.
Outside in the corridors, Pitbull decides he needs to be able to smoke a cigarette while Garrion sends his well-wishes but does not want to go and agitate Animal in his critical state. The two head for the lobby while the others follow Candy.
As they walk, Wormwood decides to do a quick check-in on the nanobug placed on ’Benjamin’s’ AV, watching as the log plays out in quick-time. He watches as the vertol flies straight into a parking garage, a great big ‘UMBRA’ written on the front. As the log moves forwards in time, he can see Benjamin exit the AV, walk a bit forwards – and then stop, apparently speaking to someone just outside of pickup range. Wormwood immediately begins feeding the data to the team net, sending, “Guys, take a look!” Candy is first to pick up the data-feed over comms, “Well fuck us, that explains that. Had a feeling. Well we might be able to get more cash out of a corp, but the game just got a lot more dangerous.”
Suddenly, Benjamin starts backwards, clearly fearful. He nearly falls down over the hood of his AV, and as he turns to face the air car something becomes clear – Benjamin is not Benjamin. This man, with roughly the same build, definitely the same gait, as the Benjamin the group met does not share his face.
“Hey Garrion,” Wormwood says, conversationally, “wasn’t there an Umbra hunter looking for you a couple of months back?” The unseen man Benjamin was talking to steps into view; a tall man, short hair, inquisitive face – trenchcoat. He is flanked by two corporate cops – and isn’t looking at Benjamin. Instead, he’s looking at the bug. “And isn’t that the guy?”
“Holy hell! I had an Umbra goon in my grasp and didn’t know it,” responds Garrion, “Yes, I doubt he was on my trail though. He probably had no idea of my connection with them.” The data feed shows the man frowns, pulling out a small wide-barreled device – something like a communications antenna looking thing – and pointing it at the bug, which goes dead.
“Well, smeg!” Wormwood complains as Pitbull grates, “I think it’s a trap, personally. I don’t have much saying why, but this whole thing stinks of a trap.” "I think its safe to assume “Ben” either will sell us out, or will be tortured into giving up Garrion.", Mei comms, “The game has just turned very dangerous.” Candyman comms, “Dear god. Well he did not bring it up when we talked about money, maybe he does not know it was us, or he is playing along. Fuck, fuck, fuck – I do not need Umbra up my ass. I think its best to never let on that we know the Umbra connection and just take the money with a smile and downcast eyes.”
With a start, Wormwood realizes that the timestamp for that transmission was twenty-five minutes ago just in time for the lights at the hospital to abruptly shut off.
“Double smeg!” Wormwood draws both pistols and switches to night and IR vision.
The team acts instantly, each readying available weapons (they’re in a hospital, after all, but some have clothing designed to conceal a holdout weapon – even one as big as a PDW) and consulting silently over their tac-net as to the best course of action. Regretting that they left their Reaper assault rifles in Pacoy’s van, which is down in the subterranean parking garage, because those state-of-the-art weapons constitute the bulk of the team’s firepower, Pitbull and Garrion use their night vision to reunite with the rest. Luckily, they hadn’t gotten far.
The team decide to keep on Candyman’s original track and head for the ward where the pitfighter Animal is being treated, hoping to at least enlist his formidable friend Twink to fight on their side. Thus, with Mei leading the unaugmented Candy by the arm, and with some of Pacoy’s drones leading the way, they set off to cover the distance to the ICU, two floors up. The short is electrifying. The team pass several patients, nurses, and doctors – some with flashlights or cyber enough to see, others just bumbling around in the dark or poking their heads out of their rooms to ask what’s going on. There’s a mild sense of panic – especially once they get to the intensive care wing, where Animal is holed up. Doctors and nurses are hurrying about, trying to care for patients – many of whom are dying due to their electronic life-saving devices being dead in the water.
As the stairwell door opens, an NCPD officer turns towards them, an assault carbine at the ready. “You! You’re not patients, are you? Get the hell off this floor! We’re locking the place down!”
Candy spreads his hands, “We were just downstairs at the cafeteria. We are with Animal and Twink – in room 4C. Could we just stay in the room with him, you can check with Twink if you like.” The cop roars. “I don’t fucking care who you think you’re with, this shit is serious! Do you see the fucking sign? INTENSIVE CARE. No fucking visitors, and your damn friend is probably dead or dying anyways without the power up. Now get the fuck off this floor and out of the way of the people trying to save lives!”
Candyman tries to calm the panicked cop, “Get Twink off this floor then, people are here to kill him and I’ll give you all the money on me. If one friend is going to die, the least I can do is save the other.” However, Mei, who is now wearing her persona of “April”, tries a different approach. At the cop’s harsh words, “April” begins to tear up, “NO!! He dying?” Tears now streaking down her face, “Please, if he going to die I have to say goodbye! My love!”
The cop looks startled. “Wait, what? You know what this shit’s about?”
Candyman pushes to the front, past Wormwood, “Ask Twink, he’s been attacked by these guys twice already. We need to get him out of here. I’m sorry April, I don’t think we can do anything for Animal.”
The cop looks damned near ready to push Mei back down the stairs, but catches himself, instead just scowling at her before turning to focus on Candy. “The fuck you say?” The cop jostles his way into the stairwell, forcing the rest of you back, and closes the door behind him. “Now what is this about the attack? Who are these people? How many? How well armed?” Silver-tongued Candyman responds, doing the talking for the team as usual, “We have reason to believe its Umbra Corp, they’ve been experimenting with Red Plague in Cargotown – Animal and Twink are privy to the information and they are here to clean up lose ends. If you can get me Twink, we’ll make a very public exit and get them to leave the hospital alone.”
Still, the rest are getting antsy due to this delay – every second counts. Wormwood subvocalizes, “This is taking too long. Someone stun this mutha before I shoot his head off!” and that’s a general cue. Pacoy sends the Pinbot and the Buzzbot into Twinks room to investigate, while getting his Duwende prepared for assault mode. Garrion inches closer to get within reach while they talk then responds to Worm subvocally, “I’m on it if he doesn’t comply.” Wormwood himself slowly slides aside until he has a field of fire, just in case. He taps the end of his Pistoleer chip to make sure it’s well seated and lets his hands relax. Mei chimes in on the comm-net to lament the fact that she can’t just use her cybernetic hypo to poison the cop. Pitbull, the trained soldier, sees their movements then takes up the rear and makes sure the rest of the team don’t get any nasty Umbra-shaped surprises from that direction.
Candyman keeps talking to the cop – “We have reason to believe its Umbra Corp, they’ve been experimenting with Red Plague in Cargotown – Animal and Twink are privy to the information and they are here to clean up lose ends. If you can get me Twink, we’ll make a very public exit and get them to leave the hospital alone.”
“Umbra! Shit. And the Plaguers are just down the hall in the quarantine rooms… How many would they send? How badly do they want him dead?”
:“Well, its Umbra. If they are showing their heads they are going to do it right. We need to get their targets out of here. If Animal is well enough to move under his own weight…otherwise he’s dead. The best security can do is lock this place down behind us and we get Twink the fuck out of here. Its dangerous with our backs exposed out here, lets get on the other side of that door at least. Umbra’s firepower and training outmatches the lot of us out here.” Candy says with a hint of fear in his voice.
The cop pauses for a moment, then shakes his head. “Shit. I gotta call higher; if this pans out, we’ll get you out of here. They’ll want to debrief you, get all the evidence we can against Umbra or whoever’s running this.”
The feed from Pacoy’s bots shows Twink sitting by Animal, looking around. He glances up at the bots as they come in, keeping his eye on them. A nurse is going over Animal, but he appears to be doing as well as could be expected. All seems well but Wormwood is impatient. He subvocalizes, “We don’t have any more time, every second counts. Do it, Garrion.”
Garrion reaches for the cop as he voices reluctance to let them past. He misjudges his reach due to the dark and crowded conditions in the hall so his hand just barely brushes the cop’s chin, and the cop backs up a bit. “Hey, man, this ain’t time for a make-out session! What the fuck’s wrong with you?”
Garrion steps forwards, his hand still outstretched. The cop tries to wave the incoming hand off, but it makes contact and Garrion firmly grips the cop’s forearm. “Hey! What are you ughlarahgla-” As the electric shock from Garrion’s Zap-Glove jolts through the cop’s uniform and into his arm, he suddenly convulses and falls to the floor, smacking his head against the steps on the way down.
Garrion steps over the body, “Now grab his gun and let’s get going. Mei, make sure he will be ok.” He cracks the stair door open and peeks down the dark corridor beyond. Wormwood puts up his guns and pulls out some cufftape, binding the cop securely while relieving him of his weapons. He stops, hesitating, bent over the cop for a moment – then leans in to plant a kiss on his cheek which leaves a clear black lipstick imprint. Candy glances back at the Wormie and whispers, “Yep, he’s a weird one.”
“Sure.” Mei answers Garrion, as she bends down to check the officer’s pulse. With her fingers already on his neck she injects a dosage of the cyanide from her implant into his vein. “No pulse. Maybe hit head too hard.” “Shit, I didn’t want it to go down like that“, Garrion growls. “Nothing that can be done now except to get Twink and perhaps Animal out of here.” The team move stealthily onto the ward floor, Wormwood in the lead.
The ward is quiet – the hustle and bustle of nurses and doctors has abruptly ceased while you were out dealing with the cop. Mei comms subvocally, “It too quiet, they might already be up here. What going on in Animal’s room?”
The ward isn’t just silent – it’s dead. As Wormwood and Garrion sweep the area, they notice a number of small splotches of heat all around the ward. Wormwood turns to one of those splotches and moves just enough to see a cooling figure, puddled on the floor – a bullet hole in her skull. Garrion’s infrared visor registers movement at the far end of the hall – the quarantine wards. “Down there, someone’s moving!” Garrion picks up the pace and slinks down the hall toward the wards, pulling out his PDW machine pistol and performing a standard sweep to move and clear each doorway he passes. Wormwood begins to move from cover to cover towards the end of the ward. “Get in here guys. They’re here and killing the patients!” Pitbull is next in, swinging the muzzle of the cop’s carbine in arcs as he moves.
Coming in behind them with the rest, Pacoy sends a command to his Buzzbot to watch the nurse, incase she is a mole but it doesn’t respond. : It takes Pacoy a few moments, but he soon realizes that his bots have been spoofed – he’s not seeing a live feed from them any longer. “Damn it! Bots have been Spoofed!” Pacoy curses into the comms. Candy groans quietly, “Christ, how did I get roped into this corp bs. Christ God.”
As they pass the patient rooms, Garrion and Pitbull find two types – doors that open freely, leading to torrents of death and buckets of blood but no movement or sounds, and doors that are locked and barred from the outside – Garrion recognizes an electronic door locking mechanism placed on each door, using strong magnetic fields to keep the door from opening from the inside. With the heavy hitters in front, Mei begins to sneak up behind them. “Did anybody get a visual on Animal and Twink? Worm – can I get that extra pistol? Mine won’t cut it here.” “Sure thing, Mei.” Wormwood sends as he halts his move forward, “Come get it.”
Pitbull rushes from room to room, maintaining a professional silence – until he walks into a power cord, pulling a heavy crash cart down to the ground with a resounding crash. As everyone takes cover and Pitbull drops into a crouch looking down the hall, ready to fire if anyone comes into view, the door at the end of the corridor opens slightly – just enough for a rifle to poke out far enough that its HUD can pick up what’s happening. Garrion picks out a small blur flying out of it, bouncing off of a wall and landing half a dozen feet in front of Pitbull, who is now the point of the Edgerunner spear. It’s a small, round object – very smooth, and when it hits the ground it does so oddly, the ball rolling only slightly before stopping.
Lying on the floor against another dead body, Candy over-rides his GenTech “Healthspy” to lower his metabolism to the limits of the augment and plays possum while Pitbull’s eyes widen as he realizes what the object might be. Wormwood spots the small object and frantically tries to retrieve it to throw it back through the doorway at the end of the hall, dropping one of his pistols in the process. He smashes to the ground next to the object, reaching out to grab it – but his fingers just barely can’t quite grip it, and instead pushing it a little farther away. It seems to roll about as expected for a bit, but then stops unexpectedly early – and Wormwood notices that the same side is now pointed upwards again. With a jolt of adrenaline he scrambles forward that last few inches and grabs hold of the sphere. In the next instant, the door at the end of the hall closes, and all seems cool – but then bullets start flying through the door. The bullets chew up the not-very-thick walls of the hospital, echoing down into the hall – and passing by perilously close to Garrion.
Pitbull ducks over to Twink’s door and barges in, barely managing to figure out how to open the lock. He finds the room much like it was on Pacoy’s drones earlier – Twink sitting by Animal, the big guy unconscious but stable. Pacoy’s two drones hover within the room; the nurse, however, appears to have left, much to her later regret. Twink gets up when he sees Pitbull enter the room, and he snarls. “Damnit, what the fuck’s been going on out there!? These blurs keep- is that gunfire!?” He jets forwards, hugging the wall and peeking out the door as two big blades pop out of his arms. “Yeah, brah! Gunfire! We need to get moving! Is he in any condition to move?!” Pitbull yells over the noise.
Wormwood underarm pitches the ball-thing at the just-closed door it came from, getting it to land just by the hinged side. The ball bounces slightly and then rolls – and just stops.
Pitbull gets his bearings, no longer waiting for Twink’s reply, as he notices a big pressurized tank to his right just as Mei finishes her run into Twink’s room, and speaks in a soft voice “It Umbra – they the ones giving Eleanor drugs. Cleaning up ends.” Pitbull manages to get the tank up and out, ready to move, then comms to Wormwood. “You feel like blowing up an oxygen tank?” He says as he starts wheeling it through to the doorway.
Seeing that the door down the hallway is silent for a moment, Wormwood rises up on his knees and takes careful aim at Pitbull’s canister with the pistol he still has in hand. “Trepanier!” he shouts, “See these cylinders? This gun’s loaded with APHEX! Throw down and surrender or we blow you to oblivion!” his answer is a single gunshot, shot straight through the door – not hitting anything, but making its point.
Pitbull straightens up and takes aim at the “grenade” at the foot of the door, and fires three rounds, muttering “Fuck it” before hand. The throw-away camera flashes and bursts, an electric arc stretching out and hitting everything within two yards around it. Someone begins speaking an awful lot of French from behind the closed doors – loud enough to hear all the way at the end of the hall – then bullets begin to shred the door, spitting out into the hallway in a cone of suppressive fire.
Meanwhile, Pacoy has his drones under verbal command, as they still won’t accept his radio signals. He sends a Buzzbot flying out to approach the quarantine zone. Garrion has found another gas cylinder which he drops onto the wheeled bed in the room and rolls it out into the corridor, beginning to push it down the hallway in the face of gunfire. Twink, seizing upon Garrion and Pitbull’s idea, grabs the first canister from Pitbull and drops it onto the gurney as Garrion pushes it past. Pacoy realizes what’s intended and yells to his drones to return to him.
Wormie rises and runs into Animal’s room, then sets to taking the brakes off the wheels on his bed as Mei pulls her Biomonitor bracelet off her wrist, disabling the automatic injection triggers, and places it around Animals ankles. “I hope this works,” she says as she dumps all of her painkillers and stimulants into his system. Pitbull disengages from the hallway, and runs into Animal’s room to help – between the three team members they get Animal out and past the stairway door to safety.
The bullet storm dies off for a moment, only to be replaced moments later by another shower of bullets fired by a weapon with a slightly higher pitch – accompanied by a yell in slightly-accented English. “We’ll take you down, Garrion! We don’t abide traitorous scum!”
Garrion continues his advance with determination, “You and Umbra are the scum for what you have done to the people. I’ll blow you and them to hell where you belong!”
Garrion’s words prove to be quite apt. Moments later, Garrion pushes the gurney away with all his strength – a good half-dozen yards from the door at the end of the hall. The gurney rockets forwards, and Garrion begins to pull out his pistol even as bullets whizz by his body, blindly aimed down the hall in a hail of suppression fire. Garrion stands tall, braving the bullets and ready to do his duty – but then Andres Trepanier carries out his duty for him, one of his own bullets puncturing right into the forward tank’s shell.
A cloud of nitrous gas begins to escape as the leak begins to spread. In milliseconds, the tank is rupturing completely, exploding outwards with the force of a thousand drums beating at once. The follow-up bullet is what truly sets the explosion going; the first one merely punctured the tank and let the gas loose, the next one struck the second tank at just the right angle to catch a spark.
A fireball erupts down the hallway, blasting straight into Andres Trepanier and whoever was behind that door with him, and the entire building shakes with the force. When the Edgerunners vision clears, all they see is a hole in the hospital where the hallway used to be. Garrion, the quarantine room, and everything in between – it’s nowhere in sight.