Waltz of the Macabre

All About the Truck

Mr(s) Johnson Part 2

At the break of dawn Thanatos is up and ready to stake out the Docks for when the cargo ship arrives. A quick ping to the group and Blank agrees to drop him off near by. Grabbing a few soy cubes Thanatos finds himself settling down in the brown fields, and with cubes to his left for snacking and binoculars in his right hand, he lay their for several hours. Just before the ship comes in two guards leave one of the buildings and switch places with the guards in the tower. Watching the ship come in, the drones lift the containers and the scurry of trucks coming and going from the docks like a bee hive.

The high end corp trucks with their shiny finish looking like they’ve never done more than a few days of work completely automated and those that look like they were dragged from the river or the local dump with typical truck drivers set festering in their seats as they follow collection orders from their bee queen.

As the activity quietens down one truck arrives and seemingly stops, no drone is active no cargo being moved. Thanatos scans the area, finally focusing on the guard tower as a man leaves walks over to a crate in the ‘suspicious zone’. He watches as it is inspected, inside and out, then as he walks back to the tower a drone lifts the cargo onto the truck before it scurries away.


A low rumble accompanies the truck as it leaves the dock with its new cargo. Thanatos observes silently, wondering how we might be able to infiltrate and retrieve a heavy container and the only conclusion that can be drawn is at least a simple one – we need a truck. But do they hack into an automated corporate one, or knock one of the drivers unconscious? Both are risky, especially as they cannot be sure if the trucks are tagged in some way. It certainly wouldn’t do to arrive claiming ownership of one container whilst the drones attempt to transport another!

The decision is made to instead try and acquire a new vehicle. Whether the idea is to rent or “borrow” is yet unclear, but the Gentleman is soon scoping the matrix and quickly finds a place that rents trucks. Together, the band of four head over in what has become ‘affectionately’ known as The Party Van. They pull up a street away but as they draw to a stop they see a trio of humanoids heading for the door. Troll, ork and dwarf. Odd companions. Cautiously, sensing something amiss, Blank steps out of the van.

Loud cracks sound through the air, flashes coming from inside the small office. Screams fill the otherwise quiet morning. Thanatos leaps from the van and it’s a long moment before Bo hesitantly follows. The Gentleman decides to use his particular skill set and a small drone flies forward and lands lightly on the glass of a barred window. It projects back the images and they are able to make out the three figures, with another two behind the desk. There is at least a single limp form in the room and the tension rises. These guys are not playing. Their style indicates toward them being more of the uncouth Halloweeners.

Blank and Thanatos flank the doorway, crouching low under the windows. Blank risks lifting slightly to peer through the bottom of the window. A growl, a crack, and a bullet tears through the glass near the spy bot, knocking it to the floor and showering Blank in shards. He nonchalantly brushes of the shards as a huge troll throws the door open. Without pause Blank lifts his semi automatic pistols and fires a long burst. The troll roars and stumble backwards, raising his own weapon, but is unable to retaliate before the dual weapons are utilised again and a few more rounds are squeezed off. 18 bullets, and he finally falls.

Thanatos glances through the open doorway to assess the situation as Bo round the front of the van, ensuring to keep cover. Inside, the dwarf is looking more than a little worried but the ork scoffs and raises his heavy shotgun. He is swiftly disarmed, literally, by Thanatos’ quick thinking. He rushed in and slashes at the offender with deadly accuracy, the sharpened blade slicing through flesh without issue and neatly dismembering the ork. The shotgun, and his right arm, drop to the floor as he screams in agony.

Bo notices the look on the dwarf’s face and knows he’s about to bolt. Blood is still oozing from beneath the large bulk of the troll, dark against the dusty concrete, and the sight of the torn limb bleeding profusely make her gut wrench. She stands up and puts her hands in the air. Mainpulating her voice to an inhuman level, she shouts for them to stop. The dwarf’s face twists, his fear more than apparent. Unfortunately the plea otherwise falls on deaf ears as the ork rushes Thanatos, who is the much more agile of the two. He neatly side steps and plunges his katana into the back of his neck. He puts a boot into the back of the now dead comrade and shoves the body off of his weapon.

Blinking against the sudden escalation of violence, Bo makes her way through the office, carefully stepping around those that were less fortunate. She pushes open the back door and picks the door on one of the trucks. Her gloved hands shake as she attempts to make quick work of the gridlink. A deep breath and she’s back in control, and she’s eventually able to disable it before picking the padlock on the rusty metal gates to the parking lot. She pulls out the panel hiding the wires for hotwiring the truck and as the engine sputters to life Thanatos jumps into the cab next to her.

“One has a DocWagon on the way,” he announces grimly. “We should hurry.”

Bo looks up to see the Party Van already tearing down the street and puts her foot on the gas. They had a truck.


Bo straightens her long blonde hair, combing it out and fluffing it around her shoulders to try and make it look more realistic. She strides forward and round the corner, confidently approaching the guard posted in the booth at the front gate. She smiles widely and bids him a good morning, which earns her a strange look.

“I’m a new recruit, I was asked to report here today?” she hedges, clasping her hands in front of her.

The guard raises an eyebrow and just points at the card reader next to a small gate in the fence where personnel access the compound. Her smile falters a little but she places her forged keycard against the device and, when the door clicks open with a buzz and he doesn’t cast so much as a second glance at her, she decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Looking around, she quickly orientates herself with the descriptions Thanatos gave her and heads for the rear building where the guards should be. To the left of the building, right by the quarantined containers, is a heavy steel door leading into the building.

“Luck must be with me,” she murmurs as the door swings open under her touch. The hallway is completely empty, with not so much as the whirring of machines to be heard. The first door leads to a small lounge where the guards must take breaks. Further on, there is a staircase leading upward before the corridor turns sharply left. Glancing up, she continues on for now. She steps lightly, not wanting to be caught off guard nor prematurely announce her presence.

Here there are two wooden doors to the left and a steel one to the right. A flush and the sound of running water filters through the first wooden door, answering questions about that room, but her curiosity is peaked by the final one. She approaches and tries to peer through the windows, but thick shutters have sealed out any nosy visitors so she knocks sharply on the door. When there’s no answer, she takes a moment to listen but can’t here much other than a quiet beeping. She tries the door and finds it also unlocked, and steps through. She freezes when she sees a large man in a chair, surrounded by monitors, but he doesn’t move. She holds her breath for a second but it becomes obvious he is not going to react and she edges around to see that his eyes are staring blankly forward and a small wire is plugged into a jack at his temple.

Bo wave a hand briefly in front of him but again he doesn’t even flinch. She stands back and messages the team.

“I’m in,” she whispers, activating the link to her contact lenses.

“We can see,” she hears in her head. “Looks like you found the security detail.”

“Doesn’t seem like much of a threat, but good to know where he is,” she replies, casting her eyes over the multitude of displays in front of him.

She spies a locked cabinet in the corner and moves to it, slipping her lockpick out of her pocket. A quick twist and the cheap metal lock opens up. She pulls the door open and finds varying guns and some riot gear. Sadly, nothing very shiny. Poots could pick her up something much classier quicker than she picked the lock! With a small pout she refastens the doors and leaves everything as she found it.

Back in the hallway, she makes a beeline for the stairs and jogs up them. The door immediately to the left of the stairwell opens out onto a generously size balcony area, littered with cigarette butts. There is also more wooden doors but her attention is caught by the one at the end. A large window shows several men in uniform observing many monitors and through the room she can see that this room then has a large external window too, giving good visibility across most of the compound.

Bo puts her friendly smile back in place and knocks, letting herself in. Three of the occupants don’t even look up, but the rear guard turns to look at her expectantly. “Hi, I think I’m supposed to be here, right? The company sent me over to help out only I’m a little lost,” she offers with a self deprecating smirk.

He raises a sceptical eyebrow but nods her in. “Didn’t know we were getting anyone new,” he says, a hint of suspicion in his tone.

Bo frowns. “Really? I was told that you security should have got the message.”

The guard rolls his eyes. “Bloody lumox. Of course he didn’t tell us.” He shrugs and continues. “Well, there’s not really much to be done right now. It’s a slow day. But up there you can see a display of the containers that will need inspecting. Most of it runs pretty normally, it’s boring as shit.” As if to punctuate his statement, one of the other guards gives a large yawn.

“When one needs inspecting, we take a look and tag it with one of those,” he signals to a box of red RFID tags. He picks one up and Bo moves forward, peering in. Taking her opportunity, she slips a tag into the inside of her sleeve. A quick glance about and she’s sure she wasn’t spotted.

“If tagging these things is as exciting as it gets around here then, mind if I come along?”

He shrugs again. He’s clearly not paid enough to care much about what goes on here. “Whatever, it’s your life.”

He picks up a machine from the desk and presses a few buttons. “First you gotta program it with the shipping ID,” he points to the screen with the red box on it and a single string of 12 random characters and taps the tag against the screen of the hand held machine. “Then we go check it out.”

They move toward the staircase as he explains. “Truck will arrive that will be transmitting the same RFID code from under the bumper, which is how we know to let them in. The drones match what they’re here for and handle the rest. I won’t actually tag this one yet though so I’ll wipe the tag when we get back.”

Outside in the quarantine area he gives one container a curious look. “We’ve only got one on our records, wonder why that one’s still here,” he says absentmindedly before throwing open the heavy container door of the one they’ve gone to inspect. It’s just full of crates, and he lifts one up but doesn’t appear to find anything of interest. He shuffles through and peers into a few more, poking some of the miscellaneous stuff lying on the ground and exits with a disappointed look. “Always hope to find something good, like gold or something.”

Scuffing the ground with his foot he gives a disgruntled snort and heaves the door closed again.

“Well, maybe I can come down and check on this one later, just to make sure nothing fishy is going on,” she suggests.

He waves his hand in an uncommitted manner and leads Bo back to the control room and shows her to a seat at one of the terminals. She sits and observes the room for a minute and huffs out a long breath, spinning in her chair.

“I’m Alice by the way,” she offers, holding out her hand. The guard hesitantly takes it with a firm grip and introduces himself as Jeffrey. “Can you show me how to actually use that machine, Jeffrey?” she asks curiously.

He considers her for a moment then looks back out at the silent compound. “Sure. Grab one of those tags.”

Bo retrieves a single red tag and walks to his side. He hands her the machine an tells her to type in the number of the container downstairs, then place the red tag against it. She touches the tag against the top as instructed, slipping the other briefly into her hand at the same time before pushing it back into her sleeve.

“Now make sure you wipe it again,” he says, pointing at a few buttons on the device. “Just press the tag against it again. Anywhere near the scanner will do the trick.”

Bo taps the keys and presses the tag against it. “That’s all?”

“That’s all.”

She nods an tosses the tag back into the small box, replacing the device. She glances out over the yard and the lines of containers. Her eyes are drawn back to those near the building.

She paces a little, then turns to Jeffrey. “I might actually go check on that one now, give myself something to do, y’know?”

He shrugs again. “Be my guest. But let me know what you find down there, me and the lads got a pool going.” There’s a small chuckle from one of the other guards, the first interaction any of deigned to give her, and he glances over his shoulder.

“Will do, sir.”

Back at the container now, she pings the Gentleman with the code she has programmed the chip with. For show, she pulls the heavy doors open and peers inside. In the centre there is a large grey oval, shining in the sunlight filtering through the opening behind her. She steps inside and walks around it, but makes no attempt to touch it.

“Showtime, boys.”

She leaves again and pushes the door closed, shifting the tag from her sleeve to her hand and affixing it to the crate, then returning to the office.


A quick bit of work on one of his small spy drones and the Gentleman has his little worker flying underneath the truck and fixing itself behind the front bumper, transmitting an RFID signal with the matching code as sent by Bo. Now they should have no trouble getting in and retrieving the container.

Using the smart system in the older model, he navigates it forward to the front gate. There’s a small beep, then the great metal gate noisily slides open. It trundles forward into the loading bay and stills, waiting. A tense moment follows as they wait to see what happens.


“Anything good?” The main guard asks as she comes back in.

Bo wrinkles her nose and shakes her head. “Nada, I’m afraid. Just boxes of musty old clothes and some furniture that’s seen better days.”

He sighs and gives yet another signature shrug. “Damn, I had my money on organs,” he replies with a slightly sinister grin.

She laughs nervously, taking her seat again. She hears the gate creak open and looks across the compound to see a truck drive itself into the dock. This is it…

The group collectively hold their breath and, after what seems like much longer than the ten seconds it must have been, A low buzzing accompanies the sight of drones flying to one of the containers in the quarantine area. The one the have been requested to retrieve is slowly hauled into the air and placed on the bed of the truck.

Bo allows herself a small smile. “Just in time too. Although why anyone wants that junk is beyond me.”


The truck reverses back out into the road and returns to the side road a little ways away where Blank pulled the van up.

The Gentleman pings Bo a quick message. “Okay, time to get out. I’ll cover your tracks.”

The hacker is soon back in the security system of the dock and has erased all traces of the shipping container, and a chunk of the time that Bo had spent poking around the security office. Finally, he spoofed the company system and sent a message to the main guard. They shouldn’t be looking for her anytime soon.


Bo spends another twenty minutes looking over the silent screens and getting more bored by the minute. Two of the men are talking in low tones in the corner, giving her sideways glances and laughing. She fights the urge to roll her eyes. No one else has even bothered to talk to her. She stretches slowly an casually stands, making her way to the rear of the room. She quickly reviews her excuses but find none of them necessary as they don’t even glance her way.

As she makes her way toward the exit she fires off a message to Mr Johnson to let her know they had the package, and almost instantly receives a response containing simply an address. She nonchalantly strolls out of the building, across the tarmac and out of the gate. Very soon, she is back in the Party Van with the other three and on their way to the rendezvous point.


Another alert pings up on the security guard’s screen.

“Alice Higgins has been reassigned. Her efforts are required elsewhere. Apologies for the inconvenience.”

Shame, he thinks. They never seem to last long here.


They pull up near to the meeting point, finding themselves in a derelict industrial estate. Bo and Thanatos jump out of the van and head forward, asking Blank and the Gentleman to stay behind and watch the cargo. They were at a distinct disadvantage here, with no idea what they could be walking into.

Inside an old warehouse, they see their client. She seems relieved to see them and steps forward, her look quickly turning apprehensive. “Where is the cargo?”

Bo raise a hand slightly, smiling to calm the nervous woman. “We have it. We just wanted to meet first.”

The woman appears slightly affronted. “Why on earth would you… Bring it, now.” She demands.

Bo’s smile turns to a smirk, throwing up both her hands and stepping back to placate the irate female. “Okay, okay. It’s just not our first rodeo is all. Although the first to not try something,” she adds, nodding respectfully. “We appreciate that.” She sends off a message to Blank to let him know it was safe to bring the truck through to the yard outside.

They exit the warehouse to see him pull up to the doorway.

The woman looks at the container with dismay. “You brought the whole thing?”

“It was the easiest way,” Bo reassures her. “And there’s no trace, as you asked.”

“I was really rather hoping you might just bring me the cargo,” she ponders a moment. “An extra 100 nuyen each if you can get rid of this,” she waves her hand at the truck.

Bo considers the offer and looks to her team. After a moment she nods and accepts the offer. “Yeah, we can do that.”

She relaxes a little and offers her own smile. She approaches the container and pulls open the heavy door. She steps up to the grey oval and places a palm on the surface. A panel slides open and she inputs some code using the keys presented. A low hiss sounds as the top shifts off the apparently pressurised capsule.

A gasp sounds and a young woman sits up suddenly, her long dark hair tangling around her face. She takes a moment to gather herself as the group attempts to squash their surprise. “What took you so long?” she breathes, grinning at the client who holds out a hand and gently helps her out of the container.

Bo frowns a little, a faint memory tugging at her senses. She’s sure she’s seen her face somewhere but can’t quite pinpoint why she seems so familiar. The Gentleman’s voice sounds quietly in her ear. “I think she’s something to do with Renraku. I definitely recognise her face. I’ll start a search on local reports.”

“Thank you,” says the woman, drawing Bo’s attention again. The elf smiles and accepts the warm hug. Her comms ping with a direct message. If you ever need work, you let me know.

Bo smiles gratefully and nods. “And we’ll take care of that truck. Do you have the credsticks available for us now?”

The woman’s eyes widen. “Oh! Of course, of course. Here,” she says, handing Bo four small red sticks. “2100 nuyen on each, as promised.”

Bo holds out her hand, and Mr Johnson takes it. “Thank you.” She glances at the new woman. “We’ll let you get reacquainted.” Blank slams the container doors shut and Bo jumps back in the cab. With a little wave, she drives out of the compound and toward the bay, with the van containing the others following.


“We should just drive the whole lot in,” Blank says, arms crossed as he holds his position firm.

“Those people though,” Bo chews her lip thoughtfully. “It’s bad enough that those thugs attacked them. This is their livelihood.”

Thanatos just shrugs and scuffs the ground with his boot disinterestedly. The Gentleman, ever the pragmatist, speaks up. “I rather fear that I must agree with Blank. We are here and it would be easy to just heave it in.” Blank grins in triumph. “However you raise a good point. We would be unfair of us to inflict more unfortunate circumstance upon complete strangers who did nothing to bring it upon themselves.”

“We wore gloves, and I wiped it down just to be safe. That crap house didn’t have cameras either, so there’s no evidence, nothing to come back on us. It won’t hurt to give it back,” she tries to rationalise.

Blank grumbles but relents. Bo pulls off the tracking tag and, once the Gentleman confirms it has been wiped, uses a lighter to burn the edge. It doesn’t burn well, but it is small and she is able to damage it enough that trying to get any evidence off it should be unlikely. She tosses it as far as she can and then between themselves they are able to heave the container off the truck’s bed and into the ocean bay. They watch it sink quickly and, satisfied that it can’t be seen, return to their vehicles.

Within ten minutes, the truck is back outside the rental agency as if it had never been used and the four of them, credstick each in hand, go their separate ways. Mission complete.

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Jacq

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