It was two-thirty a.m. in Seattle. Outside the window of the large office high above the city, the rain was coming down hard; the sound of it pattering against the panes was the only thing that relieved the silence of the night.
There was only one occupant of the office; he currently sat behind his desk, his hand hovering over the phone. He left his hand there for a moment and then sighed and let it drop.
No...they need this time. I’ll catch ‘em later on. Next time.
He leaned back in his chair and looked around the office, noting with satisfaction the deep, real-wood paneling, the understated, old-fashioned light fixtures, the paintings that hung on the walls (bought at auction through proxies, they were small in number and very high in value), the solid respectability of the antique rosewood desk beneath his hands, the luxuriant plush of the thick carpeting under his feet. It was the sort of office that might be occupied by a very wealthy Eastern banker.
Harry thought that ironic, all things considered.
He glanced at the phone again, rethinking his position for a moment but arriving almost immediately back at the same conclusion as before. The call he had received half an hour earlier, routed as it always was through so many blind pathways that it would never be possible to trace it to this place, had been a request for a talented, highly professional team to perform a bit of subtle and potentially dangerous business (but then, this sort of business was always potentially dangerous—it was the degree of subtlety requested that varied). Harry’s mind had settled instantly on the right team for the job, but a split-second later he had remembered that that particular team, after completing their last run with an almost textbook level of efficiency that rarely occurred in this line of work, had decided to finally take some time off to rest, tend to personal business they had let slide during their last three jobs, and generally make themselves unavailable for current engagements until further notice.
Harry had sighed, telling the caller that he would get back to them with an answer the following day, and left it at that for the moment. The team he’d had in mind was not the best of those he kept under his exclusive retainer, but they were very close—regardless, he tended to give them first shot at the “interesting” jobs even above the one other team who had been in the business a bit longer because they had proven themselves over the years to be adept at handling the jobs where things were prone toward going south in a hurry—or, in the case of most of these sorts of jobs, off in some direction that didn’t even appear on a standard compass.
Still, though, he owed them their time off without trying to call them up and convince them to take this job—if he could even get hold of them. At least three out of the four usually left town during breaks between runs, and the fourth wasn’t shy about telling people to bug off and leave him alone. Harry had a pretty good idea where one of the others went—it was not the sort of knowledge he was supposed to have, but little bits of information had a habit of drifting toward Harry like iron filings to a strong magnet. Even so, though, having the knowledge and using it were two different things. One of the pillarstones on which his reputation rested solidly was the fact that his integrity was unassailable. Sure, he’d exploit loopholes and look for angles just like everybody else in this business (and he was damn good at it) but as for outright betrayal of trust—secrets were safe with Harry as long as the subject of the secret didn’t do anything to actively get on the fixer’s bad side.
Harry sighed again and scrawled a note on a pocket secretary next to the phone. Tomorrow morning he would give one of his promising second-tier teams a call and tell them about the job. It wasn’t the best choice he could make, but it was the only one available to him when playing the game on his terms. These guys needed a shot anyway, and when they got a little more experience, Harry thought, they’d probably be even more subtle than his first choice. As for dealing with weird stuff—well, this didn’t feel like weird stuff. He’d take the chance. That decision made, he leaned back in his chair, finally allowing himself to relax for awhile. Moments of quiet didn’t often happen this time of the night, which was the middle of his workday. He had learned to savor them. As often happened during such moments, he allowed his mind to drift to see where his thoughts would take him, and also as often happened, they took a meandering course that eventually led to his past.
The baby boy who was born to Abraham and Anna Steinberg in October 1998 in a tony suburb just outside New York City didn’t know at the time, naturally, that the course of his life had already been mapped out for him. For young Nehemiah Harold Steinberg, being the first son of one of the senior partners of one of the oldest and most prestigious investment banking firms in Manhattan—a firm that at the time had been helmed by his grandfather—meant that his position in the family hierarchy was secure and, as far as his father was concerned, not open to debate. Even after his sister came along two years later and his younger brother five years after that, it was Nehemiah who clearly had the largest number of expectations and aspirations stacked upon his young shoulders.
The first part of his life had gone quite nicely according to plan: he had been sent along with his siblings to the best private schools money could buy, and from the time he was old enough to carry on a coherent conversation his father— who had taken over the firm when Nehemiah was four years old, after his grandfather had suffered a mild heart-related “incident” and decided to retire—would introduce him to various suit-clad men and women whom he often brought home to dinner to discuss business. Young Nehemiah at these early ages found the business discussions boring, but even as young as he was he had been fascinated by the interactions between his father and the strangers. As time went on the strangers became not so strange anymore as he saw them more than once—he learned their names quickly and always greeted them when his father brought them home. Almost all of them were impressed by the boy’s quick wits and well-schooled manners. As Nehemiah grew older his father clearly began to put more and more effort into grooming him for a position at the firm after he graduated college, and Nehemiah took to it mostly without complaint. He clearly had a talent for it.
Life went on as charted for the first twelve years of Nehemiah’s life, but at that point things began to happen that rocked not only his family, but every family on Earth: the dawn of the Awakening, followed by the VITAS plague and goblinization. Suddenly, the neat tidy pre-planned lives of a significant portion of the world’s population were turned end over end, and the ramifications would be felt for years to come.
Either by luck or by divine providence (many of Nehemiah’s family, as devout Jews, chose to align themselves with the latter theory; Nehemiah himself tended toward the former), none of the tragic events of the early twenty-teens through the early twenty-twenties touched deeply on the Steinberg family. None of Nehemiah’s immediate family was afflicted by VITAS and none of them goblinized, although there were rumors that a couple of distant cousins had turned troll and been sent off to school far away to avoid disgracing the family. Of course, none of his immediate family showed any signs of magical talent either, but that did not bother any of them. Old-fashioned and pragmatic, most of the Steinberg clan looked at magic in those early days with distrust, not as a valuable tool to be used but as an unknown force to be avoided if possible.
As well as could be expected during the upheavals afflicting the world, Nehemiah Steinberg held steady to the course his father had set and he had embraced—after finishing high school and attending the same small, exclusive college his father and five generations of ancestors had attended, he enrolled in the Wharton School of Business and emerged two years later at the top of his class, MBA in hand.
Naturally he had a position waiting for him at the firm. At the age of twenty-four, Nehemiah joined the firm as a junior partner; he spent the next few years distinguishing himself and moving slowly up through the ranks. Everyone who worked with him saw his aptitude for the business; many observed that he was showing all the signs of eclipsing even his own father’s brilliance at both dealing with people and spotting and pouncing on shrewd investments. Nehemiah, for his part, fit in quite nicely on the surface. Beneath the surface, though, he began to see the signs that changes were coming, changes that the firm, in order to remain competitive, would need to embrace. Every day, new technologies were being created, new discoveries were being made. Nehemiah watched as entire new branches of science grew by leaps and bounds—especially the budding field of cybernetics, which was showing great promise in melding cold steel with human flesh to create all sorts of promising new avenues for medical science, the military, and the new megacorporations that were growing ever more powerful each day. He felt that his firm should be investing in these new technologies, as they would be where the money was in the years to come.
His father did not agree. Abraham Steinberg was nothing if not traditional—traditional to the point of being stodgy, some would say—and he had a strong tendency to mistrust anything that was new or untested. He told his son in no uncertain terms that their firm would not be entering into such investments, at least without more time to study them and their effects. The firm would continue on the conservative course it had always followed, leaving these risky new ventures to the upstarts. Perhaps after a few years, after the newcomers had been given time to shake themselves out in the market, then their firm would consider taking a look at them. Not before.
Nehemiah simply nodded, left his father’s office—and set about making a few investments of his own. It was not his way to actively disobey his father, but from the time he had been a very young man, he had realized that doing things Abraham’s way was not going to work for him. So, using his own money (of which he had a fair amount at this point) and a series of trusted contacts he had made over his last few years at the firm, he began making careful investments into these nascent industries.
As he had expected, most of the companies he chose proved to be wildly successful, providing him with a healthy return on his investments; he continued to turn around these profits, investing more and more heavily into various cutting-edge technologies while still maintaining the outward appearance of his staid father’s equally staid son and heir apparent. He handled his extracurricular activities in secret, not because he was ashamed of them but because, despite the fact that he did not see eye to eye with his father, he still respected him and did not wish to embarrass him. Life went on smoothly as Nehemiah performed his normal job duties while simultaneously gathering significant wealth in the form of both cash and of holdings in various companies and gathering equally significant contacts in the cybertechnology, computer, and weapons industries.
Then came 2029 and the Crash, and the world was once again thrown into upheaval.
Like most other businesses of the time, the investment firm did not fare well in the Crash. Overnight they lost a significant percentage of their holdings and the financial world was in such chaos that it did not look as if anything would be remedied in the foreseeable future. With so many businesses dependent on data stored in the vast array of interconnected computers around the world, the loss of that data via the virus that had caused the crash meant that it would take years to sort out all the implications. The odds were good that things would never recover to the point where they had been prior to the disaster.
Abraham Steinberg likewise did not fare well in the Crash. Only a few months afterward his health, already more precarious than even he knew, took a downturn in the form of an “incident” similar to the one that had stricken his own father years ago. It was only a mild heart attack, the doctors said, but Steinberg would be in the hospital for several weeks and would be forced to slow his pace after that if he didn’t want to have a similar and probably much more dangerous recurrence of the same trouble a year or two down the road. Further, the heart attack had been accompanied by an even milder stroke that had not impaired Steinberg’s functioning in any significant way, but had clearly taken the edge off his razor-keen intellect.
Steinberg, always a realist, saw the way things were and decided to accelerate a plan he had been forming for awhile previously—he would step down as head of the firm and convince the board to install Nehemiah, by now almost thirty-two, in his place. It was to be a rubber-stamp operation whereby Nehemiah would take the helm of the company and, guided by both Abraham from home and a team of his trusted advisors, continue the plan Abraham had already been following for several years. The Board had no objection, as they knew that Nehemiah had been slated to take over in a few short years anyway; besides, although he was younger than Abraham’s tradition-bound contemporaries would have liked, they had nothing but praise for his business acumen and his projected ability to continue to lead the company effectively through the chaotic months following the Crash.
It was all set. The only thing they didn’t reckon with was Nehemiah himself.
He didn’t want the job.
For him, the Crash had merely been an accelerated form of a path he had seen growing for several years previously. He hadn’t predicted that it would all happen so quickly, of course—no one could have done that—but the Crash’s subsequent insanity did in less than a year what Nehemiah was certain was inevitable in the next few: it swept away most of the last vestiges of the old ways, clearing the way for the new. He had expected that he would remain at the firm for a few more years as one of his father’s associates took over and he maintained his position and continued his under-the-table dealings. He had lost a great deal of his fortune in the Crash, but not as much as most had because he had made it a point to put most of his money into things that could not be taken away by the destruction of bits and bytes: hard materials, gold, and influence among a growing number of the heads of companies in the newly emerging industries.
What he hadn’t expected was that his father would try to make him head of the company. He realized right away, when Abraham hinted to him that it was coming, that he simply could not continue in that capacity. Pulled in one direction by his father’s dimmed but still considerable will and paternal power and in another direction by the advisors who expected him to merely carry out their directives, Nehemiah knew that he would be essentially a figurehead with no real power—blamed if anything went wrong but not allowed to pursue what he thought to be the only wise course if they were to survive into this new world.
It was a painful decision for him, but not a difficult one. Gathering a few things he would need into a bag, he got into his car one evening and left town. When the board meeting that would install him as the acting president of the investment firm convened, it did so without its star attraction.
Nehemiah didn’t tell anyone where he had gone at first. It hadn’t been far: he settled in Boston, using some of his remaining money to rent a nice apartment and office space and then immediately started up his business again. This time he didn’t have to be under the table. He called up his contacts from his previous deals and began calling in favors. Before long, he had a little venture capital business going—because he had not been hit as hard as some by the Crash, he had cash available to lend some of the companies who had not been so lucky so they could get back on their feet quickly. In this climate, those who could move quickly were the ones that survived, so Nehemiah knew how valuable a quick infusion of cash, even a relatively small one, could be. It wasn’t easy at first—none of his clients saw just how much fancy dealing he had to do so none of them could figure out just how little money, relatively speaking, he actually had—but eventually as his clients’ fortunes began to rise, so did his.
He did not entirely break off contact with his family during this time. In fact, only a month or so after he had failed to show up at the board meeting, Nehemiah received a phone call from his father who had managed to track him down. The conversation had been neither hostile nor amicable—it had been almost a business transaction in itself. Nehemiah had told his father the truth about why he hadn’t wanted the job, and Abraham, while certainly not pleased that his eldest son had defied his wishes, had to admit to a grudging understanding of where Nehemiah was coming from. They ended the call with Abraham’s agreement not to attempt to contact Nehemiah again and to tell the rest of his family that he was well but had decided to take an extended sabbatical, and with Nehemiah’s promise that he would do nothing to embarrass the firm in his new dealings.
Life and business continued. Nehemiah had long believed that, in his line of work, contacts, influence, and information were far more valuable than monetary assets—he was now getting the chance to prove it. He branched out, moving from strictly venture capitalism into taking a more active role in facilitating business deals between some highly disparate elements. As the emerging megacorporations, particularly the cybernetics industry and the infant Matrix (the latter of which had grown out of the Echo Mirage project designed to deal with the virus that had caused the Crash), began to grow ever larger and more powerful, it was quickly realized by all concerned that not all of their dealings could be aboveboard. The extraterritoriality conferred by the Shiawase Decision late in the last century meant that the megacorps had the power of small states in and of themselves, but that meant that, in dealing with each other, a certain amount of covert “lubrication” was often required to make things go smoothly. Nehemiah, to whom a not-insignificant number of important people by now owed favors, was ready to step in and take on a new role. In addition to his information-gathering and venture-financing activities, he began calling in some of these favors and became not only a broker of information and capital, but also of skilled personnel. His fortunes—in the form of money, influence, and information—continued to grow.
It was about this time when he began to realize that he would have to make some changes. He had not had contact with his family for several years at this point, beyond an occasional cryptic message to let them know he was still alive. However, when one of his ventures went bad and he got wind that one of the individuals involved was poking around looking for information about his family, Nehemiah decided it was time to take his show on the road to somewhere less dangerous.
He chose Seattle, which, as a small outpost of the newly-formed United Canadian and American States in the midst of the vast Native American holdings, had been emerging as a hotbed of shadowy activity, as his new home. Fortunately, none of his contacts knew his full name, but he decided to take no chances anyway. Selling off his holdings back East to trusted sources, he set up residence in Seattle and, giving up his rather memorable first name in exchange for his more common middle one, began calling himself simply “Harry.” In the years that followed, he devoted his considerable energy to setting up an impressive web of contacts, freelance operatives, and corporate employers, playing each of them off the others in a way that resulted in no one’s knowing too much about exactly what he knew and what he didn’t. He acquired the reputation of being very smart, very good at what he did, and not the type to cross for fear of swift and deadly retribution—but with that went the reputation for being someone who could be trusted. Word on the street was that Harry would not double-cross you—not for money, not for information, not because someone was leaning on him. The only way to get on Harry’s bad side was to attempt to double-cross him. Some tried; they didn’t last long. Eventually most people got the idea that it wasn’t a smart thing to do if continued living was on your list of things to do—he had by this point wormed his way into the good graces of so many different major players (who either owed him favors, owed him money, or simply respected his way of doing business) that no one wanted to take the chance on cacking him and risking the wrath of his many powerful friends. Besides, he was far more valuable alive than dead, as one never knew when one might require his services. By the time the 2050s rolled around, Harry was known as one of the premier fixers in Seattle, and what he couldn’t get or do for you—for the right price, of course—probably couldn’t be done or gotten.
Harry met the two men who would become the longest-running members of one of his favorite teams within a few days of each other in the early 2050s. To this day he was still amused by the flash of brilliance that urged him to try them out together as a team—it was one of the smartest things he’d done in years, but at the time it had seemed to be madness more than anything else. They couldn’t have been less alike: the young street kid from Seattle, an ex-gangleader with a brash, in-your-face manner and no social graces, and the educated, upper-class English mage, slightly older, sarcastic, irreverent, and almost utterly without street smarts. At first it had been dislike at first sight—the two had eyed each other warily like a pair of cats in disputed territory when they had been introduced by Harry, but the fixer assured them that he thought their strengths would balance each other’s weaknesses and that if they wanted to make it in the shadowrunning world they were going to have to get used to working with people they didn’t like. They had grudgingly agreed to try out the arrangement, although Harry could tell by their voices that neither of them thought it would work out. He had set them up with a simple job, given them the contact information for the Johnson, and sent them on their way.
When they came back two days later after having successfully completed the job (it had been nothing particularly complex or dangerous—Harry always liked to see how new team members worked together before he sent them out on anything difficult), Harry saw the change right away. Somewhere in the course of that two days, just as he had expected, his two new recruits had come to some sort of understanding. They still sniped at each other—that was something they still did even after all these years together—but it was a subtly different sort of sniping. Harry could see the beginnings of an attitude he had seen in other successful working partnerships: the “we can pick on each other, but anybody else tries picking on one of us and you’ve got us both to deal with” mentality. He wasn’t quite sure how their almost diametrically disparate personalities had managed to work out an understanding, but there it was. He was pleased—not surprised, but pleased. After a few more jobs to work the bugs out and show them where they needed to pay attention most, Winterhawk and Ocelot had the makings of a damn good shadowrunning partnership.
After they had run as a two-man team for about a year, Harry had noticed that the one thing their partnership, which hinged on Ocelot’s speed and hand-to-hand abilities and Winterhawk’s magical punch and social skills, lacked was some good solid muscle and somebody who could handle the heavy artillery. After looking carefully for personalities he thought would mesh effectively, he hooked them up with a couple of other runners with about the same level of experience: the hyperkinetic human samurai Moto and the laid-back troll rigger Vrool. The team was a good one—’Hawk and Ocelot provided some much-needed subtlety to their new partners, while Moto and Vrool provided the big firepower and the ability to take a significant amount more punishment without falling down. That time, though, Harry made a small mistake in his matchups: Moto and the rest of the team, while professional in their relationships with each other, never really meshed in the way the others did. While Vrool settled right in, Moto’s hyperactivity and penchant for big explosions made him a difficult fit with ‘Hawk and Ocelot, both of whom prided themselves on their ability to get in and out of situations with a minimum of upheaval. Eventually, the other three and Moto parted ways; the last anyone had heard of the samurai, he had gone to his beloved Japan and taken up residence there.
‘Hawk, Ocelot, and Vrool, having grown used to having someone around who could handle firearms better than any of them could, asked Harry if he could find them such a person to round out their team. Luck had been with them as the fixer had been hearing good things about an elf who had drifted into town from back East somewhere and was looking for work—an elf who was known both for his speed and for his mastery of most types of firearms. Harry had been a bit concerned about the elf’s borderline-certifiable personality, but the checking he had done had revealed that ShadoWraith, as he called himself, appeared to be a consummate professional, an assassin who had exhibited a high degree of integrity with regard to the jobs he chose and the care with which he carried them out. It just so happened that, personality-wise, he was silent almost to the point of being pathological about it. He had contacted his team and the elf, set them up together in a meet, and let them decide whether they wanted to pursue things any further.
They had all decided to give it a try, and there had been no particular problems to trouble them. Winterhawk had reported back to Harry that the elf didn’t say much but he was good at his job, and besides, he had a rather wicked sense of humor that the mage appreciated. ‘Wraith, for his part, didn’t seem to mind being part of a team. And so it continued.
The death of Vrool when his van exploded following a particularly nasty run had been a shock to them all, although not so much of a shock as it could have been under the circumstances. All three of his partners (and Harry, for that matter) suspected that Vrool had decided to fake his death in order to get away from some enemies he suspected were on his tail; when another troll who looked very much like him showed up a couple of months later, calling himself Malcolm and claiming to be Vrool’s younger brother, nobody asked too many questions. That association lasted a few months, but it was never quite the same as it had been with Vrool. Malcolm eventually drifted away and returned to his home city, leaving Winterhawk, Ocelot, and ShadoWraith once again in need of a new fourth. Back they had gone to Harry.
Again the fixer had a suggestion for them. Like ‘Wraith, he wasn’t completely sure about the ability of his choice—an Amerind troll named Joe who was not yet out of his teens—but once again he decided to let the participants be the judge.
The relationship had been rocky at first. In particular, Winterhawk and Joe seemed not to hit it off, although the friction was actually rather one-sided: the mage made no secret of his distrust of the troll, who he thought did not have the proper respect for keeping his mouth shut and who possessed a crude sense of humor that grated on ‘Hawk’s nerves; Joe, on the other hand, was almost as easygoing as Vrool and didn’t appear overly bothered by Winterhawk’s issues. Ocelot leaned more toward Winterhawk’s side of things, while ‘Wraith and Joe fairly quickly formed an unlikely partnership based on Joe’s ability to shield ‘Wraith from the kind of punishment that was lethal to the glass-jawed elf and ‘Wraith’s ability to pick off foes before they were able to concentrate their firepower on the slower-moving troll. As time went on and Joe proved himself to be an earnest, trustworthy, and valued member of the team, even Winterhawk’s none-too-subtle dislike of the troll began to temper. At this point, the two of them seemed to get along fine. ‘Hawk was still disgusted by Joe’s occasional crudeness but respected the troll’s loyalty and his devotion to his Native American heritage and the teachings of Bear, while Joe still enjoyed twigging the mage when he got a bit too snobbish and pompous but likewise respected his magical abilities. Harry, watching from the sidelines, had to chuckle at the fact that once again his matchups had been good ones—it had just taken a bit longer to see it that time.
The team in its current incarnation had been together for over five years now, which was very rare in the shadow community: usually as teams moved up through the ranks they either lost significant chunks of their membership due to run-related casualties, got fed up with each other and parted ways, or made a big killing and retired, dropping out of the shadow world and going legit if they could. This team showed signs of none of the above.
Harry was noticing other signs over the last couple of years, though. He kept his mouth shut about it because it wasn’t any of his concern, but still he noticed. There had been changes in this team—changes that couldn’t be accounted for by the simple passing of time and the accumulation of maturity. He saw that all the time: it was a fact of life in this business that you either got smarter and learned from your mistakes or you got killed and made way for the new kids to give it a try, and every successful runner team had to make the transition from brash kids ready to take on the world to seasoned professionals who had seen most of it and heard about the rest. The team had done that too, of course, but there was something more to it that Harry couldn’t put his finger on.
It had started about a year before Dunkelzahn had been elected President of the UCAS and subsequently been assassinated on the eve of his inauguration. The team had been taking a break between runs, but had abruptly called Harry one day and asked him to find them a job. He had thought this odd—they usually didn’t cut their vacations short—but he had complied. They had done the job with their usual level of professionalism, but over the next few months after that Harry had noticed fundamental changes in their personalities. It had been most obvious in Joe: this had been the time during which the troll had embraced Bear and began studying the shamanic ways, even though there wasn’t an ounce of magical blood in him. He had also asked Harry to help him purchase some land up in the mountains and paid the fixer a yearly fee to keep prying eyes from examining the details too closely. Harry thought this was odd too, but still he didn’t ask. It was none of his business.
The others had changed too, but more subtly. Ocelot became less outwardly hotheaded and more grim. ‘Wraith became a bit more verbose (a state which, in most other people, would still be considered near-silence) and began taking an interest in things outside his small circle of former pursuits. Of the four Winterhawk changed the least, but even he toned down some of the nasty edges of his personality. Harry wondered what had caused this change; the team never spoke of it.
Things continued on and got yet odder. The team managed to wangle an invitation somehow to Dunkelzahn’s inaugural ball—they had done some shadow work around the time of the wyrm’s presidential campaign and were apparently being rewarded for it with a cushy security gig that wasn’t procured through Harry—and were thus present when Dunkelzahn was assassinated. They had been extremely morose for quite awhile after that and had taken a few months off to recharge their psychic batteries before heading back into regular working schedules again. Once more, Harry hadn’t asked.
Everything had been getting mostly back to normal for a year or so after that when the next bit of weirdness occurred in the form of a young man named Gabriel who had appeared in town a little over a year ago and set up shop as a fixer with his friend and partner, the former samurai Kestrel. Because Kestrel had been an old girlfriend of Ocelot’s, the team were quickly drawn into Gabriel’s circle, and Harry feared for awhile (though he wouldn’t have told them at the time) that they would be lured away by the young fixer. This did not happen, but that didn’t make Harry any happier about the fact that he could not dig up one bit of information about the Gabriel’s past. It seemed like he had sprung full-blown into Seattle from nowhere. People who were able to do that were the kinds of people Harry didn’t trust.
When it became clear after some time had passed that Gabriel had no intention of trying to muscle in on Harry’s territory or his teams, Harry decided to just let things go and see where they went. He didn’t stop trying to dig into Gabriel’s past, but he didn’t make it a priority anymore. If the kid didn’t mess with him, he wouldn’t mess with the kid. They’d just ignore each other and that would be it.
The only problem was, Gabriel was difficult to ignore due to the fact that, despite not making any attempt to lure runners away from Harry’s influence, the young fixer seemed to have become close friends with Winterhawk, Ocelot, Joe, and ‘Wraith. Harry was sure there was something about Gabriel that they knew and he didn’t, but still he chose not to ask questions. It wasn’t that he wasn’t curious—he would have given a lot of money to find out the kid’s angle—but that just wasn’t his way of doing things. Something was bound to slip sooner or later. Harry could wait.
And then, four months ago, Gabriel had disappeared. Left town. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going or whether he would be back, but just left. A month ago, Kestrel had left too. There was no word on whether she had left with Gabriel, although that much Harry had asked the team. Ocelot had told him, rather moodily, that yes, the two of them were together and they were “off seeing the world somewhere, I dunno.” After that, the team had gone back to work and seemed to be back to their normal selves. Harry just shook his head and let the whole thing drop. Everything was back to the way he wanted it, so he wasn’t going to complain about it.
In the darkened office, Harry leaned back in his chair and contemplated the phone again. He’d been sitting like that for a long time, lost in thought; the rain had stopped and the faintest traces of sunlight were beginning to poke their way through the clouds into the darkened sky. Far below him the early-birds of the city were waking up.
“Gotta give those kids a call,” he muttered to himself under his breath. One last time he thought about trying to contact his first choice, but he shook his head. They definitely deserved their rest. Besides, he didn’t know where to find most of them anyway. “They’ll call if they want a job.” He was still muttering as he stood up, pulled on the suit-jacket he’d slung over the back of his chair several hours before, lit a cigar, and headed for the door.
As he closed it behind him, he wondered what the four of them were doing. He hoped they were enjoying their vacations. At least the weirdness finally seemed to be over.
Thanks to Dan for the basics of Harry's history
Copyright ©1999, 2000 R. King-Nitschke. The Shadowrun universe is the property of FASA Corporation.
No part of this story may be reproduced without permission from the author.