Out With the Old

andy

She remembered the parties. The flashing lights. The exclusive guest lists. The dresses and tuxedos. The red carpet. The fast cars. The designer drugs. The handsome men fighting over her.  The good life.

It was like time stood still when she entered a room. The lights would reflect off of her glittering dress in tiny beams like a velvet chandelier. She was greeted with bright smiles from some of the most influential people in New Angeles. Escargot, fancy cheeses and flutes of champagne offered up on silver platters were just a normal Saturday evening affair. Her passport told a story of lavish trips on her private jet. Andromeda knew all about the good life, for as little as it knew about her life as a runner.

All but a memory.

Andy pulled up to the curb on an abandoned street around two o’clock in the morning. The rain beat down on the roof of her shiny Advanced Concept Hopper. A breaking news feed scrolled in green and yellow beneath the instrument cluster with her name and alleged crimes as the lead story. Sliding the key from the ignition, she let the vehicle’s security console scan her eyes.

“Thank you for using LockTec protection services,” a robotic female voice came through the speakers.

Andromeda sat for several minutes watching the windshield fog up. She glanced at the enormous duffel bag on the passenger seat beside her, then down the alley across the street. The street lights shone no further than ten feet into the filth ridden corridor. The rest was left to her imagination. At the entrance, a thickly muscled Pistolero leaned against a plate glass window smoking a vapor cig beneath an awning. The leather strap across his chest holstered an assault rifle that he made little effort to conceal. His eyes had not left Andy since she pulled up.

Here goes nothing.

With a feigned confidence, she swung the door open, stepped out into the pouring rain and hoisted the duffel bag over her shoulder. Her arm ached from carrying the outdated armor from one potential buyer to the next. No one wanted it, but she stubbornly refused to accept that it was worth nothing. She made her way across the street and almost tripped on a pot hole hidden under a puddle.

“Are you Mr. Marròn,” she asked as she approached the man in front of the shop. A sudden flash of lightning and clap of thunder made her jump. The gangster chuckled.

Aaron is back there,” he corrected her, pointing back through the alley. “Past the second dumpster. Door’s on the right. 32B. And don’t presume to impress him with those formalities and false manners, ristie.”

Even out of her formal wear, drenched in dirty New Angeles rain, Andromeda found it difficult to conceal her affluent background.

By the time she found the door, her clothes were soaked through and her bag felt ten pounds heavier. She squinted to make out the barely legible characters printed on the door. 32B. The aggressive Latin rap music coming through the other side made her pause as she lifted her hand to knock. She gave a soft tap at first, in an awkward effort to be polite.

With her foot, she poked a man sleeping under some wet cardboard at her feet to see if he was still alive. He stirred slightly. A couple moments passed with no answer. She knocked harder.

“Hello?!” she called out.

At that, the door swung open immediately, stopping short on a chain. Andy was greeted by another Pistolero, even more imposing than the first, gripping a loaded S&W in his right hand. The sight of a ristie standing in the rain at that time of night caught him off guard.

“Hola, mi amor,” he said slyly. “And what can I do for you?”

“I was hoping to speak with Aaron,” Andy responded, shivering.

The man took a quick glance up and down the alley before ushering her in and slamming the door behind them. Andromeda’s  repulsion by the condition of the room must have been obvious.

“What’s the matter,” asked the gangster. “Not up to your presumida standards?”

“It’s, um…….not what I was expecting, is all,” Andy said, her voice barely audible over the music.

The walls of the hallway leading from the door were stained yellow and brown from years of mold and mildew. Most of the lights had either burnt out or flickered randomly, and the stench of a dog kennel saturated every square inch of the place. Three Pistoleros at a makeshift bar to her left forgot about their drinks for a moment and eyed Andy warily. She gave a shy smile, and the men turned back to the bar, disinterested.

“Aaron, mira,” her escort called through one of the doors at the back.

“Que,” a voice yelled back.

“Esta chica dice que necesita hablar contigo.”

“Ven aca!”

The huge man walked Andy to the door and pushed her inside, leaving her staring at a one-eyed Aaron Marròn, draped in gaudy silver and gold jewelry. He bore the traditional red and black of Los Pistoleros, his crimson shirt intentionally ripped to expose a muscular physique painted in myriad gang tattoos. His missing eye, spiky black hair and mutton chop sideburns made for a striking first impression. Andromeda took note of the enormous bowie knife hanging from his belt.

He stood before a row of collapsible tables covered weapons, stolen jewelry, pawned rig components and all other manner of illicit contraband. The walls and ceiling were as plain and decrepit as those in the other rooms, and a nude girl laid passed out on a short mattress near the door, surrounded by nearly a dozen empty vials of some sort. Aaron seemed to recognize Andy immediately, and opened in a burst of excitement.

“Dios mio,” he exclaimed. “You’re face has been on the news all day.” His accent was thick enough to cut with a knife.

That’s why I’m here,” Andy replied. “They’re after me. Gabriel said I should come to you.” she paused to look around the room, ironically. “This was the one part of town he said NBN and the NAPD wouldn’t follow me into.”

She finally gave in to the weight of the bag on her shoulder, which Aaron hadn’t failed to notice, and dropped it on the mattress, nearly crushing the naked girl underneath it’s weight. The girl barely mustered the energy to roll out from under it.

“A gift for me on our first date,” Aaron said, facetiously. As eager as a child on Christmas, he walked across the room and shoved the girl on the mattress aside with the bottom of his boot. “And I thought I was the romantic one,” he said, plopping down.

Andy felt a quick flash of pride as Aaron unzipped the bag and examined the beat up old armor. She remembered how every ding, dent and scratch got there. The demolition charges Blue Sun had placed around her apartment. The contract killers Gagarin sent after her.  The PriSec agents employed by Haarpsichord.

“This is yours,” Aaron asked.

“It is,” Andy replied.

“For a ristie, you’ve been in some shit, chica.” Aaron sounded impressed. “But what do you expect me to do with this hunk of plascrete? There’s no market for this crap anymore.”

“It’s still structurally sound,” Andy protested. “It just needs a bit of cosmetic work.”

A sudden change in Aaron’s tone made Andy nervous. “Seems you’ve wasted my time, and yours, mi amor. I’ll have Ramon see you out. I think you’re in over your head, here, little girl.”

He sprang from the mattress and grabbed the back of Andy’s arm so hard that it hurt.

“Ramon,” he yelled to the man outside.

Andy’s mind raced in a panic. She couldn’t go back out there without going off the grid first. Leaving Los Pistoleros territory tagged would ensure her death before morning.

“Wait!” she screamed in desperation. She wrenched free of Aaron’s grip and slammed the door closed out of his hand. “I’ll give you one better. How much are agendas worth to you?”

***************************

I’m excited that FFG has been releasing cards like Sports Hopper, Aaron Marròn, Guru Davinder, Citadel Sanctuary, On The Lam, etc. as more flexible alternatives to Plascrete Carapace. That card just felt very flat and one dimensional in its design, and it was so often a dead card in your deck.  Cards that provide a meaningful interaction during the game are a lot more fun, even if they aren’t top tier. 

This story isn’t from any particular game. It’s more an illustration of the choices in damage protection we now have combined with the thematic interaction between Breaking News shenanigans and Aaron Marròn, told through the eyes of a tagged and desperate Andromeda. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free leave a message in the comments section below. 

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