Baltimore just isn't the same

Looking in the mirror, you sometimes have trouble recognizing yourself, The years have left their mark, and you're finally beginning to show your age. The age you feel. Your friends are few and far between, even the news of the friend of a friend is welcomed... usually. This morning is different.

The lead story is about a man you know by reputation, a healer and a warrior, the friend of a friend, ...of a friend. He's being held in Quebec on charges of First Degree Murder. Somehow, you just know something's up with that. Not that you don't think he could or would kill somebody, he's a trained soldier, Pueblo Force, Special Corp. Something just doesn't sit right, so you call your friend's friend...

The answer is slow in coming, and you really don't like the background, but now you have another feeling, another friend who needs you, now. So you go looking for her, but before you do, you stop by the tailismonger and pick up Bear totem to remind you of your friend, a show of solidarity.

You find her on her way out of one of her hangouts. She's agitated, you can feel it before she sees you, then she's all smiles. Her hair's a new shade of purple, and she's beaded her mohawk, `must have a new boss,' you think to yourself. She always redoes her hair when she takes on a new job.

She tells you she was looking for you and you smile knowingly. You know that annoys her so you smile even more. But then its her turn to surprise you.

She knows about Danny TwoBears, the friend you're worried about. Seems that her new boss is a friend of his too. She tells you what she knows and your blood boils, its a setup and its meant to take out Danny and Lightening's boss. Bad Karma, all the way around. You tell her you'll be in touch. You have some work to do, then head out. You start thinking about how small the world is and wonder what other surprises the day holds for you.

Information is scarce, you can't find anything on the opposition, but you find out a lot about The BoneShaker and Lightening's boss. She's got a reputation of taking care of business, and her `team'. Ex-Special Forces officer, military Decker, active reserves, impressive career and more importantly, you know Lightening's finally found a boss that will do everything possible to take care of her. Before you know it, night is creeping into the air and the smells of dinner fill the streets. Its time to take to head out.

You go to Jamaica Blue's place, its eight o'clock and the joint should be jumping. It is, but not in the way you expected. People are scattered outside and it looks like there's trouble inside. As you near the door, you see Mickey and Minnie, the CyberTwins and Kenny. You haven't seen him in 7 years and the memories threaten to overwhelm you, but now's not the time. Something's been going down and you have to know what..

Seems you've missed the action, but Minnie's just standing there. You reach out mentally and you know, somebody's been mucking with your favorite CyberBabe. Kenny sees you first as he's checking out Minnie you check the guy on the floor and realize, he's been running some heavy magic, directed at Minnie. The man needs help so you call to Kenny, besides, you know it'll be a lot better if Minnie sees a familiar face when she snaps out of it. Minnie can be dangerous when she first wakes up.

The evening is a blur as you piece together what's happened. And when you finally have a chance to breathe, memories of Baltimore come back. Memories of you, Clearwater and Heartbreaker.

It all started with a simple assignment really. Heartbreaker needed some help and called in some local talent on a rescue mission. That was 10 years ago. Before Kenny joined the Army, before you took to the road, before Baltimore.

You didn't know it at the time, but Heartbreaker, was a lot tougher than she seemed. Turned out she was a Navy SEAL, working for BlackPaw out of Norfolk. She'd been on vacation when a top official had been kidnaped. She was in position and could get him out, but only if she had some backup of the magical variety.

Finding Kenny Wilson had been easy enough. He was in Medschool at William and Mary, looking for a few extra bucks. His family had lots of ties to the military. She must have traced him through the 'good ol' ops network. Kenny, "Clearwater" as he was called, could provide the healing magic she needed, but she needed a little bit more.

Some how, you were drawn to her. Something about Heartbreaker just made things like that happen. You never really worried about it, because that' s the way your life's been always been. Then as now, you're called when you're needed. Things just sort of fall into place.

You joined up and together you saved the day... and Kenny fell in love. Lasting friendships were made on the brief encounter. You never really worried about it though, you enjoyed the company. They were your best friends for a very long time, they seemed to be your only friends...

The three of you would paint the town red whenever Heartbreaker was on leave, and you had your share of adventures. The black market organ gatherer, who thought Kenny would make good pieces. The Yak who thought you had insulted his clan, the Security team that insisted that Heartbreaker was a Mafia moll named "Trixie"...

It was a good time to be alive. Then came Baltimore. HeartBreaker was on leave, but she couldn't get out of the city. She invited you all out, said she had something to tell you. It had been a great weekend, but it was over way too soon. Kenny went to get the car, so he wasn't there when it happened. You were never sure if it was better or worse for him... By the time he got back, it was over. She was dead and there was nothing he could do. Magically or Medically.

The gunfire was fast and efficient, she never saw it coming. The shooter knew his target, hit and moved on before anybody was the wiser. She died in your arms and there was nothing you could do. Then Kenny was there, it was too late, but he tried. He would have kept trying too, if the police hadn't stopped him.

She never did say what she was going to tell you, and before you knew it you were both under arrest for espionage. Kenny was a basket case, and your one phone call did you no good. You tried to get them to listen, but they held you two without bond, without communications. Until the rest of BlackPaw could arrive. You were expecting trouble, but the team recognized you from Heartbreaker's description. They got you out of jail, but you didn't have anything you could tell them. By then, the trail was cold anyway.

Seven years have passed, and old wounds have started to heal. He's glad to see you, but you can see, he still thinks about Heartbreaker from time to time. You'll have a lot to talk about, after this business is settled. For now it'll wait.

After it had all went down, you tried to take help him, but he was hell bent on self destruction. You called in a couple of favors, and found a friend of a friend... of a friend... Man they called the "BoneShaker"... Bear, TwoBears... Danny... You let him handle it and took to the road.

You figured it was better if you drifted off... too many reminders... to many memories... How could you tell Kenny that you loved her too? Danny was there for Kenny when you couldn't. Now Danny's the one in need. Seems the circle is spinning in on itself, such is life.

Anyway, Baltimore will never be the same... Besides, right now, you've both got bigger fish to fry.

(Next up... Bigger fish to fry) (as soon as its written)

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker
Wind, Lightening and the Cybertwins belong to S.Robertson. for stats and info check out: Sal's Shadowrun Crew

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