After the recent fiasco, Snips was not prepared to go in again half-cocked. She wanted this done proper. She needed to build a fine crew of dependable assets, something like six new PHAN-tastics and Monroes, and then go and fetch the dropped loot and resources with a good chance for success.
That meant: Teaching.
The New Crew
One obvious choice for the new team was Diego Montez, a level 1 nomad, and the nephew of fallen Messy, who confronted her demanding the mortal remains of his uncle, on behalf of the family. Snips told him to be patient and to come with her to get what he sought, but only once he was up to it.
She promised to show him the ropes and make him a Waster of renown, and he signed up. There were also another nomad named Alyssa, and the engineer Wilkes.
Snips demonstrated for Diego how to hire a retainer, and recruited a blasé hacker called Royce. She offered Royce that she would include her in a very special and lucrative mission if she performed well on this easy one. Diego hired a greedy little freshling called Karen who was so smitten by his shyboy-approach that she became extra loyal.
Techies in Trouble
In theory, this was an easy job: A crew of civilian technicians got cut off from the safe zone and had barricaded themselves in. They had told of “wild animals”. This had all the markers of being noob-proof: simple animals, and very close to the home base. A cakewalk!
Snips decided to take her time and scout out the block well. So she found a group of no less than 9 rabid wild dogs that were busy cracking bones for marrow and tearing apart some flesh. Hoping that it was not the flesh of techies, Snips retreated and led the rest of the group away from there. She had fought rabid dogs and knew that even three of them were a problem. Nine? Fine to shoot from a rooftop, but too much in an open field battle.
The team took a generous hour to avoid the dogs and seek out the right building. It was a promising block, with several good houses with high chances of loot. The one they needed for this rescue mission was a three storey building with active power and a partially destroyed brand sign on the front, reading “Mill””.
The ground floor had two doors, as usual – and lots of barred and shuttered windows. Snips chose the front entrance and snuck up to it while Wilkes and Alyssa stood watch. She failed to pick the lock, but it was an electronic lock – a chance for Royce to shine.
Royce scanned for networks and found one in this building. She logged in, confronted a guard program and took it down, although it was able to raise an alarm. Then Royce found two options: a node for security cameras, or a node for doors. She chose the doors and found that this part, too, was protected by two guard programs. She had to choose between fighting the security or opening the door. She saw that she would go down against the programs, so she chose to complete the mission, unlocked the door with her last move, and was taken down hard.
Royce dropped out of the connection, and was stunned for a turn. Some door was now open – but it was not the front door.
Snips checked the back door and found it was one of the typical fire doors, with no handle outside. Also closed. No deal. So her gaze wandered upwards. She was a Sneak, after all.
Snips climbed up the sheer wall and slid in through a window on the upper floor. She found herself alone, and in daylight – the building was a damaged husk with no roof, and open from the first floor up. She was mindful of a possible cave-in of the floor, and lowered a rope for the team.
When everyone was inside, she went forward to determine a safe path, but even she triggered a partial collapse of a wall, and only barely escaped getting her legs crushed by rubble.
Wilkes determined a safe path across the floor and found the way to the stairwell, which was partially buried under rubble from above, but with a gap between the fallen masonry to see. Snips went and looked, and could see 7 more of the rabid dogs down there, yelping and yipping. They looked starved, small wonder, locked into this building as they are.
Snips started shooting dogs through the gap in the wall. That should have been safe as a walk in the park. But while one retreated with serious wounds and one got killed, all the rest got angry from the bullets and clawed and yipped to get through the rubble, upsetting the balance of it! Wilkes stood ready with a sledgehammer to topple the rubble on the dogs if need be, when suddenly one big dog broke through, and threw Snips back down, biting and slavering.
Wilkes threw down rubble on the dogs, Alyssa fought them, Snips tried to get them off, Diego shot at other dogs, Royce shot at the one on Snips – a chaotic battle erupted, where Snips got bitten, Diego got bitten, but in the end all the dogs fell, one by one, most of them shot by Snips, either with rifle on distance, or with the pistol point blank.
The party heard shouting from the distance: Men were calling out, but Snips wanted to check the area before calling out. She carefully climbed down the stairs to inspect the dead dogs, and count them. All 7. She checked the room … and suddenly saw a safety door sprung open. That must be the door that Royce got open!
While the others covered her from the stairs, Snips stealthily slid forward to peek inside. She saw a huge lizard, more than man-sized, standing in something like a big safe. All around him, there was stuff that looked like loot.
Snips knew: “We have to get this stuff!”
And Snips was thrilled and happy: She would now be able to use her sniper skills! The lizard had not yet noticed her. She shot it with the gun, a sneak attack, doing 12 damage! But the beast survived. Snips dashed back to the others to receive it firings squad style, but behind her not one, but three lizards burst through the door!
Snips turned to shoot at them with everyone, then the group retreated up the stairs to shoot the lizards from higher ground. They shot what they could, but missed a lot, then retreated upstairs. from there, Snips shot the first lizard, but two more came up. A tough battle, as they crawled up the stairs under fire, their thick hide protecting them. Snips got bitten, Diego got hurt, then Karen got killed! The lizard bit her hard, and she fell, then he just dropped the body and came on, killing for territory, not for food.
Snips shot the reptile in the head, and Royce executed the last one, damaged by the efforts of Alyssa and Wilkes, point blank with her pistol.
Snips was sad to see Karen fall – not for her personality, as the woman was a greedy, uncaring egomaniac, but for Diego and his self-esteem as a leader. She tried to comfort Diego awkwardly – she had seen too many die to still feel much empathy, but she remembered how it felt to lose the first one, and could see how raw this felt for Diego.
Snips was pleased with her new recruit, though. Royce held up very well! Sharp, smart, driven, and she got her jobs done. Yes, that was a candidate for the coming superteam!
“No worries, we got you! You are going home!”
But first, the spoils. The group checked the loot. It was exclusive foodstuffs, excellent wine, and some coin. They packed it up, making sure that Karen’s sacrifice would not go for nothing. Then they called out for the technicians and found them holed up in a back room.
“Stay in there yet, we are making sure the way out is safe. Trust us! We got you. You are going home.”
Snips did not want to have the mission fail on the last yards, so she took her time to check the short way out from the techie-refuge to the fire door. Then she sent Royce back to Cyberspace to inspect it all through the camera’s eyes.
But Royce had no chance: The security programs ripped her avatar to shreds, and she was stunned again. Snips let her nap it off and checked the office cubicles on foot, and made sure that all further doors were locked. Nothing would stop the techies.
They opened the fire door, and Wilkes and Alyssa stepped outside to guard the perimeter. Only then did Snips fetch the techies. She let them form up in an orderly line, and they trusted her tough command voice. All would be well.
Fire in the hole
Diego, hurt from the fighting, took point, then followed all the seven techies in an orderly line. Royce provided flank protection. Snips herself would go last, guarding the retreat against any pursuit.
Then the third of the men fell over a trip wire.
A trip wire.
How on earth Snips, Alyssa, Wilkes, Diego, and everyone had stepped over it without triggering it, that remained a mystery. Bottom line: A canister of gasoline was poured down and ignited. Three techies and young Royce – arrogant, but competent – were burned alive, while Snips herded the survivors back into cover and Diego stumbled out to the others.
The fire quickly petered out, but the civilians were shocked: “You told us it was safe! You killed our friends! You are going to kill all of us!”
Snips did not back down. She was rough, and gave orders: “Stop it! You lost friends. I lost a damn good retainer out there. Get your act together! You are not safe yet. But you can make it! *If* you calm down.”
That piece of tough love sobered them up. A reaction check of 10, and they once more formed up in an orderly line, albeit a much shorter one.
This time, they made it out, and they also made it back to the safe zone. No more dogs, no more attacks, no more traps. They had lost 3 out of 7 techies, so their mission payment was cut by a certain amount, but it was still fine.
The supposedly “easy mission” had turned out to be another deathtrap. But she would get there, Snips vowed. She would get the right group of people, she would get the proper equipment, and she would get the loot, back and the dead, that she had been forced to leave behind. Just… all in good time.
Image: Davis Pan on Unsplash
Snips 1 – Fighting Dogs
Snips 2 – Fighting Robots
Snips 3 – Fighting Swordsmen
Snips 4 – Fighting Kids
Snips 5 – Fighting Dreadnoughts
Snips 6 –
Fighting Running from the Boss
Snips 7 – Fighting Cops
Snips 8 – Fighting in the Pharmacy
Snips 9 – Fighting Cats
Snips 10 – Fighting Lions
Snips 11 – Fighting Code
Snips 12 – Fighting Chaos
Snips 13 – Fighting Words
Snips 14 – Fighting Mechas
Snips 15 – Fighting in Cubicles
Snips 16 – Fighting Fire
Snips 17 – Fighting Frogmen