Dateline: September 23, 2050, 20:15
The Edgerunners have escaped from the sewers just in time, having been informed by an extremely doped-up NCPD police officer that the sewers were going to be flooded with both water and octobots less than an hour prior to the designated ‘all-clear’ time.
Now, the Edgerunners stand upon a street in a neighborhood that is on fire. Several of them are crouched behind an overturned vehicle that looks like it’s been here for thirty years; others are up against the walls of some of the few buildings that aren’t on fire. The sound of gunshots rings out every few moments from the distance; the conning tower of the triad’s aircraft carrier headquarters is just one of the origination points for that common sound.
More close to home, the Edgerunners can now see that several of the rioters have begun to take an interest in their presence. Officer Taffy is down and possibly out after a man tossed him to the side like so much play-do. Cargotown’s citizens are out in force, and an even dozen of them are facing the Edgerunners. Several of them hold baseball bats, tire irons, and other improvised weapons; one of them holds a Molotov cocktail, already burning. There is a menacing, wild look in the eyes that look back at the Edgerunners; reasoning with these people is unlikely to be fruitful, as all reason has left the zone. Even worse, all of them show signs of plague infection – some have full-blown tumors growing from their face, hands, and elsewhere. Others have scars, running up and down their bodies. One of them was either enhanced prior to the transformation or was hit harder than the others – his jaw looks malformed even more than normal, and his three-fingered hands are shaped into claws. He looks at the Edgerunners and roars, revealing a set of massive set of fangs that would make a space alien proud. When he howls, the rioters charge.
Mac starts, instinctively bringing his shotgun to bear on the roaring one, startled. “Holy smokes, what is wrong with his face?!” He fires off a snap shot at the man’s leg. As Mac reacts faster than anyone else can blink and fires, his target is already jumping forwards and towards the Edgerunners. He narrows in upon the nearest threat – the big man carrying the assault rifle.
The pointy-teethed mutant slashes forwards with his claw-like hands at Pitbull’s arms, while his mouth opens big – almost as if he’s about to bite Pitbull’s face off. The blade-like hands hit and sink into the ballistic weave of Pitbull’s jacket, but don’t penetrate to his flesh.
Hank takes aim at the closest target with both pistols and fires 3 rounds from each pistol in to the crazy infected person’s chest. The scarred man takes an even half-dozen bullets straight to the chest, each one hitting its mark. He falls to the ground, bleeding and out of the fight if not already dead.
The plague survivors run forwards, converging upon the group. Two of them run up to Mac while another vears off for Pitbull. The other three all charge Hank. All of them are swinging blunt instruments around with deadly force. The wild swings, the result of running or jumping into the fray with wild abandon. The only swing to hit was upon Mac, a solid blow straight to his chest by a tire iron. The blow sends Mac reeling.
Pitbull snarls as he unloads his Reaper at the pointed teeth monstrosity, at point blank range. When the rifle is raised, the sharp-teethed man jumps, using a hand upon Pitbull’s shoulder to steady himself as he goes sailing over the soldier. Only two bullets of Pitbull’s barrage strike him, but he remains standing and in fighting condition. Pitbull follows up his burst with a well placed kick to the other plague victim. When the boot strikes the rioter, he goes flying backwards, crumbling into a heap upon landing.
Wormwood watches the giant toothy guy come flying over Pitbull, draws a bead on the guy’s skull and let’s fly with both pistols. The fanged monster zips to the side when Wormwood raises his pistols, dodging one gun’s bullets entirely – but he never even saw the other one coming. The second pistol rings out, bang bang bang, and two bullets splatter the rioter’s gray-matter all over the wall, leaving two big holes in the side of his head and a face not even a mother could love. But the bastard continues to stay up and moving.
The scarred rioter with the Molotov cocktail tosses it straight at Hank, not caring that two of his compatriot rioters are right there in the thick of it with him. The bottle sails through the sky, reaching out for Hank – but then the lit rag falls out of the cocktail when it’s right over one of the other rioters, landing on their head and setting their hair ablaze. It doesn’t seem to faze the other rioter. The bottle sails just over Hank’s head, popping his helmet just a tad before going a little further and spilling all over the floor.
The other scarred men run forwards and join the fray. One of them jumps at Candyman, another at Pacoy, the next at Mei, and a final one joins his compatriot at Mac. They wield sharp blades – two of them actual knives, the other two shards of glass and metal.
They swing at their targets and completely miss. The sight of the sharp blade edging towards Mac unnerves the private detective as he begins to suffer a panic attack. On the other side of the battlefield, Candyman has begun to suffer the same problem, the noise of the riot too much for him to take. He begins to vomit uncontrollably into his mask – a dangerous proposition. If he doesn’t get rid of the vomit soon, he’ll suffocate.
With a fluid motion, Pacoy draws and opens his balisong into cross-defensive grip with his left hand and fires a quick burst into the skull of the closest plague-addled wretch. The scarred man goes down, his brains splattered all across Candyman’s fine suit – which is now absolutely filthy from blood, guts, sewage, vomit, and now brain matter. The tiny pinbot floats well out of rioter-reach and heads slowly towards the Triad ship, lights soflty blinking. The buzzbot arcs overhead and opens fire on the pesudo-muto-zombie-freaks, but not hitting any targets.
Mei, caught off guard by the sudden attack of the plague victims reaches for her pistol. Easily removing it from her tactical harness and unloads her clip at the victim attacking her – making quick work of him.
Candies eyes grow wide with panic, coughing the thick hot fluid inside his mask as panic sets in. Flames flicker at the edge of vision and the air is alive with deadly noise – in a rush unloading wildly into the nearest plaugebearing slime. Even through the retching, Candy manages to sink three bullets straight in the chest of his attacker; the scarred man goes down, quite dead.
The fanged man lets loose a howl as he spins, tossing one clawed hand straight at the back of Pitbull’s skull while he leans in to bite at Wormwood’s face. The man has overreached, unfortunately, and in his attempt to attack two opponents at once he hits neither of them.
Hank fires on the freak trying to shank Mac. Two bullets, one from each gun, enter through the man’s ribcage, skipping past the ribs and going straight into the right ventricle of his heart. The heart explodes in a shower of blood as the bullets exit the back of the target and bury themselves into a wall of a shop labeled "Carl’s Pawn’. The man dies instantly, crumbling to the floor.
Pitbull sweeps sideways, deliberately moving to get Wormwood out of his line of fire and fires three shots from his Reaper in a quick burst. Four rounds from Pitbull’s reaper enter the menacing rioter with the modified hands and teeth, and even his redunant organs can’t save him. The bullets pierce his unprotected flesh and explode within, shredding the last of his three hearts; he finally goes down, and doesn’t get back up. Pitbull throws his head back and lets out a rebel yell as the brute goes down.
Wormwood steps swiftly to the side, standing over Mac and firing three times with each pistol at the two plague victims attacking the injured detective. Five rounds from Wormwood’s pistols strike their targets, and the two plague survivors go down.
The guy who had thrown the Molotov yells out, a big long “Rawwwwwg!” when he sees the toothed man go down; he quickly pulls out another Molotov cocktail from the crate at his feet and lights it, but rather than tossing it he runs with it straight at Pitbull.
Pacoy sends a round towards the skull of the goon who is trying to start a cocktail party. The bullet zooms by the plagued man and he keeps on coming. Seeing the danger still approaching Mei fires three rounds from her pistol at the charging man. All three shots hit their mark but the small rounds are not enough to bring the man down.
The buzzbot makes another sweep, cutting the charging goon down. Bullets fly and strike the man in the back; he tries to keep running, but soon falters and falls, hard. The shock of the fall breaks the burning liquor bottle in his hands and the flames engulf him; his screams of pain pierce the noise of the riot. The team is lucky they are wearing air masks, less the smell of burning flesh overwhelm their senses.
Panicked, Candy subvocalizes insensible cries of suffocation and terror even as he unloads another salvo of lead into the nearest madman. All that before dropping the pistol to clutch at the phantom pains screaming along with the burning man in his skull. The shots go wide, nearly hitting Hank – at least, if he were taller.
Wormwood subvocalizes, “Someone help C-man!” “On it!” Pacoy calls into the comms as he hastens towards his screaming comrade.
Hank fires 3 rounds from his pistols into both of the crazed infected people trying to take him down. The rounds scream downrange, quickly silencing their lives. The street – the immediate area of it, anyways – is suddenly quiet except for the crackle and hiss from the burning rioter.
Wormie stoops over Mac as soon as the immediate danger is past, “Are you ok, guy?” Mac blinks up at Wormie, his eyes defocused – “Did you catch the name of that truck?”
Pitbull stomps up to the body of the toothed monstrosity, and takes on the pose of a noir gangster as he grumbles in the best noir ganger accent he can. “You were good, kid. Real good. But as long as I’m around you’re only second best, see?” He flashes a glance to Mac, then to Hank, and finally to Wormwood as he finishes.
With threats gone, Mei turns her eyes towards Candyman and helps him get his mask open to drain the vomit out. “You really aren’t suited to firefights, are you?” Candy blinks back tears as he looks up at Mei, “I’m getting there.”
Wormwood looks up at Pitbull and shakes his head in sorrow, albeit grinning, then turns back to Mac, “Do you want something on those ribs? BBQ, maybe?”
Mac groans and doubles over, laughing at Pitbull’s comment, clutching at his sides at the pain the laughter brings. “Yeah – ugh. It felt like I went up against the Rabbi of Swat in a batting cage.”
Hank asks, “Was anyone expecting this? Is this the red plague?” “I’m guessing that’s exactly what it is, Hank” Wormwood pauses, then continues, “Anyone got a syringe, get a sample from MacToothy there?”
Pitbull barks out a laugh at Mac’s words. “You’ll get used to it. Or you’ll die first. Haven’t known you long, but now I feel like I know you ’nuff to hope for the first bit, Mac”
“I have a knife. We can cut a piece of it off.” Hank states. “Yeah, I got the med kit. We want to move the body for a full inspection?” Pacoy asks, “Like tech and all?” “Is there any reason to? I thought they already got it figured out?” Mei replies. “Wouldn’t wanna do that without gloves and a jar, though. Don’ wanna catch this shit, thats fer damn sure.” Pitbull grunts out a chuckle.
Candy shakes his head, “It’s just like back at the hospital – I thought I just got a concussion in the explosion. This though, I think something’s wrong with me Mei.” “Maybe it’s just something you need to keep acclimating yourself to, Candy. Not all of us are natural born killers.” Mei slips a sly smile, as if she’s proud of the fact. Candy slips the soiled mask back over his face – clearly unsatisfied with that answer.
Mac flashes Pitbull a grin, before realizing his mouth is covered by his mask. “Same goes to you, bruno. You go out for football or something when you were young? Aint seen a kick like that since the league games six years back.” “Military for the most part, before that Zone ganger. You pick up some survival in both them areas. Also some neat tricks. Can you stand?” Pitbull grates to Mac, jovial tone remaining in traces.
“Let me take a look at Mac first, once I’m sure his ribs are okay, we can talk about samples,” Pacoy says as he pulls out the med kit.
Mac attempts to get up on his feet to let Pacoy tend to him a bit better. “Neat tricks can save lives. Might have to pester you for some pointers later.” “If you two love birds are finished making out, I’d like to check his ribs” Pacoy chides, then pokes Mac semi-gently in the ribs “1-10: how bad that that hurt?”
“Not a prob, brah. I know some and got the time.” Pitbull says as he starts reloading his Reaper. Mac snorts at Pacoy, breaking into a laugh before wincing. “I’d give it a 5, and about the same for your bedside manner.” Pacoy sets about taping up Mac’s ribs. “This should hold you for a while, let me know if you feel woozy or need anything for the pain.”
Candy eases himself out of the muck, ignoring the filth he’s covered in, and stares out at the Triad’s headquarters. The Dragon’s Lair, that’s where the real fight will be, a battle of wits and words to determine the fate of the whole zone. A cruel smile lies hidden under the filthy rebreather, a reflection of this whole affair, there’s always something hidden under the shit.
As the team gathers together and tries to recover from the sudden, brutal attack, the riot continues unabated in the background. These twelve souls were just one small group of the thousands that live in the Zone; their like can be found on every street-corner, in every store window through all of Cargotown. The Edgerunners look around themselves and prepare to go after Eleanor, with a short detour to speak with the Triads about the location of the PLF, all while the city burns.