Sean was dreaming. In his dream he flew high over a verdant mountain range, spinning and rolling lazily on the air currents, diving, in ecstasy over the simple feeling of the wind beating his face and whipping his hair back like flame behind him.
He awoke abruptly in a dimly lit room, jolting to a sitting position. Beneath him he felt the softness of a bedspread over a mattress; his head had been propped on soft pillows. What’s going on?
He blinked a couple of times, letting his eyes adjust to the twilight, and then took in his surroundings. He was indeed sitting on a bed. The room was large and well appointed, with ornate-looking furniture, heavy drapes, and some kind of flocked wallpaper. There was a door on the other side.
Gingerly Sean got up, testing his balance. He still felt a bit woozy from whatever they’d shot him with, but nothing more than that. He pulled up his shirt to examine his side where the shot had hit and saw only a tiny red pinprick. So whoever’s got me, they want me alive. I wonder how long I’ve been here. Does this have anything to do with the ‘safety issue’ Dad had mentioned?
He moved around the room, examining his surroundings. There was a lamp next to the bed; he flipped it on, filling the room with gentle light. Then he checked the door and the window: the former was locked tight as he expected, and the latter was made of some kind of heavy armored glass. He doubted he could break it even if he threw one of the chairs through it. I’ll keep it in mind if I have to, though.
Another door off the bedroom led to a sumptuous bathroom with a sunken tub and golden fixtures. Whoever owns this place is loaded. Wonder what they want with me? He examined the bathroom window, knowing from experience that even those who carefully guarded their main windows against intruders sometimes forgot about the bath, but this one was locked and made of the same material as the one in the front.
He ran some water in the sink, washed his face, and dried off with one of the thick towels hanging on a rack next to the vanity. Then he headed back out to the main room.
The man who had shot him was sitting in one of the chairs.
Sean started violently—he hadn’t heard the door open or the man come in, but yet here he was. “What—?”
“Good evening, young Sean.” The man smiled. He was around thirty, Asian, dressed in the same black suit he’d been wearing earlier. “I am pleased to see you are awake.”
“What do you want?” Sean demanded. “Who are you, and what the hell am I doing here?”
The man chuckled. “So many questions. Do not worry, young one. All will be answered in time. In the meantime, is there anything I can bring you to make your stay more pleasant?”
“I just want out of here. That’s it. You have no right to hold me here. Just tell me what you want and let me go.”
The man nodded blandly. “All things come in time. There is no need to hurry. Have we not treated you well?”
“If you call getting shot with some kind of tranq round ‘well’,” Sean growled. “Why were you following me in Seattle? Why did you follow me to San Francisco?”
“Because my employer wished to speak with you.”
Sean glared at him. “Who’s your employer?” Then a thought occurred to him suddenly, and he blurted it out before his brain could process it: “Does this have something to do with my father?”
The man’s smile broadened. “You could say so, yes.”
“Is he your employer?” He didn’t know who to trust now: if his father had hired these men to follow him, then he had betrayed the promise he’d made to Sean. But he didn’t even know I was looking for him until today—
—or did he?
The man’s expression didn’t change. “My employer will be here soon, and then the reason for your visit will be explained to you.”
“So Ocelot did hire you to grab me.”
A brief look of—amusement?—flickered across his captor’s face. “You will find out soon enough,” he said again. “I am surprised, in truth, that you do not know already. Perhaps he has protected you from the knowledge. No matter. All will be revealed.” He stood. “Until then, I hope that you will enjoy our hospitality here. If there is anything you require—food, beverage, diversions—you have only to ask.”
“But I won’t be allowed to leave this room,” Sean said brusquely. “Right?”
The man stood and made a slight bow. “I hope you will forgive me, but I have been requested to have you remain here until my employer arrives. I hope it will not be too much of an inconvenience.”
“Damn right it’s an inconvenience!” Sean yelled. “I want out!” He lunged forward, meaning to attack the man, but his captor sidestepped him with ease. The smile never left his face.
“I will leave you here now,” he said. “Please call if you need anything.” He left Sean standing there in the middle of the room, grasping at air. The door closed softly behind him.
Sean tested it anyway, even though he knew it was locked. Then he pounded on it a few times in sheer frustration—he didn’t expect anyone on the other side to notice or care, but he had to get rid of his excess energy. “What the hell is going on?” he whispered to himself, his fists tingling from the effort. He stalked back over to the bed, threw himself down to a sitting position, and glared around the room. “Think, Sean, think. Who’d want to kidnap you?”
There were only a few possibilities, and none of them held water very well under examination. The most likely possibility was his father, Ocelot. Perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know he’d had a son so long ago and was taking steps to make sure things stayed that way. Sean didn’t believe that, though. He considered himself a fairly good judge of character (frighteningly good at times, though he had no idea what controlled this hit-or-miss ability) and he would have bet a large amount of money that Ocelot had been genuinely surprised to see him today. He could have sent the man to his room to kidnap him, but since Sean was more then passingly sure that the man was the same one who’d been following him for the past few days, that would have meant Ocelot had to know about things in advance.
But if not Ocelot, who? His mother the shadowrunner, maybe? Could she have been keeping tabs on him? It didn’t seem likely. Someone from Seattle? He hadn’t been up there long enough to annoy anyone to the point they’d do something like this. And besides, the Asian man had referred to ‘his employer’ and to the fact that Sean would ‘find out everything in time.’ That implied that whoever had him knew something about his situation—didn’t it?
Sean sighed and scrubbed at his hair. This wasn’t getting him anywhere. He had to get out of here.
He spent the next hour in a fruitless search for a way out. He pulled out all the drawers and examined them for anything he could use as either a weapon or a way to pick the window lock in the bathroom, but found nothing. He prowled around the room looking for secret exits, weak spots in the windows, crawlspaces, anything. No such luck. The room was a comfortable, well-furnished, temperature-controlled prison. In despair he sank back down on the bed.
The door clicked, then opened. Sean leaped off the bed and was over there in less than two seconds, but the door had already closed behind the black-suited Asian man. He carried a tray laden with food and drink. “I thought perhaps you might be hungry by now,” he said softly, his face as blandly pleasant as ever. “I hope this will be acceptable.”
Sean started to glare at him but decided a different approach might be warranted this time. “Listen,” he said, trying to sound as reasonable as he could. “Can you just tell me why I’m here, and who your employer is? If he wants something, maybe we can work something out. Somebody’s gonna miss me before long, and you guys could be in a lot of trouble.”
The man smiled and set the tray down on the table. “Don’t worry, young one. All is well. My employer will be here in the morning. We regret the necessity to keep you here overnight, but he will join you tomorrow and you can ask your questions then.”
“And after that I can go?”
“That will be up to you and my employer, after you have spoken with each other. You may discover that you do not wish to go after all.”
“What?” Sean was getting very tired of all this mystery, and especially of all these variations on I can’t tell you now but you’ll find out later. “Why would I want to stay here? I mean, it’s a nice place and all, but I don’t generally like staying in places where I’m being held prisoner.”
“We shall see,” the man said. “Please—enjoy your meal. You should have everything you need here. You will find sleeping clothes in the—Ah, I see you have already examined the dresser drawers. Good. I will return for you in the morning.” The man bowed and moved back toward the door. The motion was so graceful that it almost seemed as if he were floating. This time Sean didn’t try to follow him.
As the door closed behind the man, Sean examined the tray. The food looked very good and there was plenty of it, but he wasn’t hungry. He was too keyed up to be hungry. Maybe just a little bit, to keep his strength up—
Half an hour later he’d polished off most of the food on the tray, surprised at how much he’d managed to eat despite not being hungry. He pushed the dishes aside, got up with a sigh, and paced some more. It was going to be a long night. He checked his pockets again to make sure they hadn’t left him with anything he could use for communication, even though he knew it was useless.
This whole thing is useless. I’m not getting out of here until they let me out. That thought didn’t please him at all, but he knew it was true. He didn’t like the idea of just giving up and waiting. It wasn’t the way he did things. This time, though, it seemed he didn’t have a choice. His captors had planned this all too well. Shaking his head in disgust, he lowered himself back down to the bed and swung his feet up. He didn’t think he would sleep, but at least he could get some rest.
He awoke suddenly, all his senses immediately aware.
What was that?
He listened. Silence.
He looked around. The room was the same as before: even the light he’d left on was still burning. There was no one else in the room. He was puzzled. What—?
A sound. Outside the door somewhere.
Sean leaped off the bed and hurried over to the door, flattening himself against the wall next to it. If someone was coming in, this time they weren’t going to surprise him.
More sounds. Weird sounds: muffled thumps, the low hush of voices. Sean didn’t know how he knew it, but his senses were telling him that something was wrong. What was going on?
There was a click and an instant later the door was flung open. Sean didn’t even have time to react before the room was flooded with black-clad and helmeted figures. No—there were only five of them, but they were moving so fast they seemed like more. Out in the hall there was the sound of running feet.
One of the black-clad figures grabbed Sean by the arm. “Come on,” it hissed. “We’re getting you out of here.”
“What the hell—?” Sean demanded, trying to wrench his arm from the man’s grasp. The man was too strong.
“Sean—it’s me.” For a second the man pulled up his helmet visor to reveal the pale blue cat-eyes and purposeful features of Ocelot, then he lowered it again and let loose of Sean’s arm. “Just follow us and stay down.” He looked over. “Got the coat?”
One of the other figures—a little taller than Ocelot, and thinner—tossed him a long black coat. Ocelot shoved it into Sean’s hands. “Here. Put this on. It’s armored. Hurry.”
Sean shrugged into the coat, feeling its heavy folds settle over his shoulders. As he did, he got a better look at his rescuers: Aside from Ocelot, there were two men and two women. One of the men was the one who’d had the coat; the other was large and bulky, probably an ork. The two women were swift and thin, and both held SMGs at calm readiness. None of their features were visible.
“They’re coming,” the ork said, moving over toward the door and lowering an assault rifle into position.
“Let’s do this nonlethal if we can,” Ocelot said. “Sean, you stay in the middle and follow us. Got it?”
“Yeah.” Sean’s heart was beating fast, but more with adrenaline than with fear. These were real shadowrunners, and they’d come to break him out!
Ocelot took the point, along with one of the women. The other woman and the thin man flanked Sean, and the ork brought up the rear. As they stepped out in the hall, they all spread out as much as they could, keeping Sean covered at all times. He watched in amazement at the coordination of their efforts, the way they all moved almost as one. He stayed near Ocelot as they hurried down the hallway.
“Incoming!” the ork shouted, and then the hallway behind them was filled with the crackle of gunfire.
Sean felt himself flung roughly behind Ocelot. As he stumbled against the wall he saw the thin man raise his hands and point them at the gunmen at the end of the hall. Suddenly bright blue energy flowered around them, lighting them up as they clutched their heads. Out of the four, three dropped to the floor. “That ought to give them something to think about,” the thin man said. His accent was British.
“Yeah, well, let’s get our butts outta here before they send the whole place after us,” Ocelot snapped. “Come on!”
They hustled Sean down the hall. Glimpses flashed by of the house, which looked quite large and opulent, but he couldn’t get a good look because someone was always shoving him this way and that. More gunmen appeared, but they were clearly outclassed by this invasion force. Once Sean felt something hot forming around him, but it fizzled out before it could take hold.
They got to the front door, an ornately carved, double-sized wooden portal that looked formidable. Ocelot turned to the British mage. “Anybody out there?”
There was a pause. “No, but they’re coming from around the back. If we hurry—”
Ocelot didn’t wait for him to finish. He and the ork flung the two doors open. “Let’s hurry, then. Charlie, bring the car around. Go!” And he was out, pulling Sean along with him.
Outside it was twilight. Sean got brief impressions of large grounds surrounded by a high wall, a large expanse of well-manicured lawn, and trees. A heavy wrought-iron gate was visible beyond a large circular driveway. Outside the gate he could see a black van, its lights on. “Come on!” Ocelot snapped, and they ran.
“Five o’clock!” came the voice of one of the women, and then the chatter of gunfire once again. She and the others swung their guns around and answered the challenge, never slowing down. The ork swore as a round tore into his arm, but he kept going. Sean, feeling useless, pounded along behind. They were ten meters from the wall. Five. Four—
He was just wondering how they were going to get over the wall when suddenly he felt his legs leaving the ground. He cried out in surprise, still pumping along but no longer under his own power. Around him, others were similarly floating, but they continued firing behind them as if this was something they had expected. He looked down and saw the heavy stone wall speeding by beneath them, and then they were over. The van was in sight, the door open invitingly—
Something slammed into Sean. A bright light exploded in his head and he felt himself falling. Then he didn’t see anything else.
Copyright ©2001-2003 R. King-Nitschke. The Shadowrun universe is the property of Wizkids.
No part of this story may be reproduced without permission from the author.