Shadowrun – Campaign
Story Extract – Seattle 2069
I knew he was expecting the hit, but he still looked surprised when his bodyguard’s head exploded. My snipers methodically picked his people off. Saturn fried his mages somehow – I don’t know what the spell was, they just crumpled up and died. The slaughter was over quickly. The dying would take longer.
The big man was propped up against his wife’s gravestone when I walked up to pay my final respects. Dark blood oozed between his fingers. “Rowena,” he said.
He was grim, holding his gut shot. No gallows humor here. I kept my gun where he could see it, but at my side.
“You gonna finish it, O’Malley?”
“You gonna gimme a reason, Butcher?”
His eyes took on a far-away look. He told me a story as he lay dying.
“You know why they call me ‘The Butcher?’ It was the proudest day of my life, the day I became a soldatos. After sixteen years of climbing out of the gutter, I stood before Don Gianelli in a borrowed suit, cleaner than I’d ever been in my life, reciting the prayers and swearing the oath while the icon of St. Stephen burned to ash in my hand. Afterwards, he shook my hand and said he needed me for a job.”
Bigio hacked up something red from his lungs and spat it out. “It was raining when we arrived at the warehouse. The boys had tied a kid to a chair, right above a drain. The tools were all laid out on a table. They gave me room to work. I took off my coat and tie. Unbuttoned my collar. Rolled up my sleeves. The kid watched me the entire time.”
I wiped away a bit of bloody drool coming down from Bigio’s mouth. He went on.
“Kid was a Yak hacker. Stole some bank codes or something and stashed ’em. My job was to find out where. He knew the score, but didn’t say anything. Maybe he was loyal. Maybe he thought he was a hard man. Maybe he was more afraid of his bosses than he was of me. I cracked my knuckles and got to work.”
He flashed me a bloody smile at that.
“There’s something to be said for getting your hands dirty. It used to be that a little blood on your hands was a good thing. Your people respected you when they knew you weren’t afraid to do something yourself. Your father – ” he almost spat the word “ – he understood that. I’ll say that for the bastard.” He coughed again.
“Gianelli didn’t make me a made man just because I was big and tough. No, it was because I was an utterly ruthless bastard that could take a person apart like a piece of meat. Like a butcher, he told me.
“The kid wasn’t tough. I started on his hands and worked my way up. You dislocate the fingers first, and then the wrist. That way, you can still go back later and break them if you haven’t made your point yet. It took about an hour to get to his shoulders. Twist, pop, scream. Twist, pop, scream. I slapped him back when his eyes glazed over. We locked eyeballs again, and I repeated my question. He choked out. ‘If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him.’”
“Benjamin Franklin.” I said. Bigio looked at me. “It’s a quote by Benjamin Franklin.” He grunted and tried to shrug, then winced. He was bleeding slower, and he shivered, but he kept on.
“I understood what the kid meant. So I ran my hand along his skull and sure enough, there were the parallel lines of stitches that hadn’t quite healed yet. I gripped the back of his head, bent it to one side, and grabbed a blade. The kid squealed and struggled, but I held his head like a vise. It took five minutes and a pair of needlenose pliers. What was left of the kid slumped in the chair. In my bloody hand I held his headware memory.”
Bigio coughed up some more blood. All the fight was out of him. His voice grew quiet.
“I killed your father, Rowena. You’ve spent ten years taking pieces out of me. What more do you want? End it. Just make it clean. James O’Malley would have done as much.”
I nodded. The gun kicked twice. Bigio was dead. I stopped to lay the gun on my father’s grave before leaving Gethsemane. It felt right.
Storyline: Seattle Elections 2069