The Adventures of Jack Snipe
Two Years of “honest” living
This is a little bit of what Jack Snipe has been up to during the 2-year time skip…
Though Jim had been true to his word and removed my SIN, life was far from easy. Now SINless, getting a legit, sanctioned job above the plate was out of the question, so I was forced to take up less desirable jobs, where they didn’t care if you were SINless and had a past. Waste disposal, part-time construction, delivery, and low-end janitorial services, I’d done them all. Two miserable years of scraping out a living amongst and I hadn’t really made much progress towards living independently. Still, I’d stayed out of trouble, the work was mostly honest, and it didn’t involve getting shot at or sent to prison.
I preferred delivery over the rest of the jobs, as it was more sanitary, though sometimes more dangerous. Good delivery jobs never lasted long, but I always had a place in the disposal crew if I wanted it.
I’d stashed most of my Shadowrunning gear in various places throughout Kansas City. I had little need of it in my current life and I didn’t need it getting stolen from my flat. More importantly I wanted to give no reason for the cops to cause me any trouble. Every now and then, I’d get the Remington and hike a good bit out of the city to practice shooting. Most of the time though, I only kept the Yamaha on me.
I always took a roundabout way home from work to my flat, varying my steps from day to day so as not to get followed. I often lost myself in thought as I walked, hands shoved in my pockets and head down. I found myself getting lost in thought more and more on the walk home.
There were three of them, muggers looking to make some quick cash. The first two were waiting in the alley, looking like a pair of homeless guys standing at a trash barrel with filthy brown and dark gray clothes. I almost didn’t notice the third step behind me, but an unnatural flicker of shadow gave it all away. I immediately pulled out my Yamaha and spun. The electric dart discharged right into the thug’s chest and he went down, twitching. The pounding of footsteps came from behind as the first two guys ditched their setup and charged. I sidestepped most of it, though I got a nasty mouthful of wall as I pressed myself against the brick and steel, aided by one of their clutching hands. One of the muggers completely missed me, and the other only managed to get a handful of shirt before I pumped two darts into his thigh. I held the Yamaha in my left hand and grabbed the man’s free arm with my right, maintaining the hold as his friend wheeled and doubled back. The gambit worked, charging at me with all the adrenaline, he didn’t seem to notice that his buddy wasn’t fighting me back. As the mugger approached, I threw his buddy right into his arms, arms splayed almost like embracing a lover.
The momentum of the unconscious body wasn’t enough to send the brown-clad man to the ground, but it took a second for him to free himself from the entangling limbs. In that second, I stepped back, and the man looked up right as I settled into a two-handed grip on the Yamaha, perfect firing stance, feet spread, and back straight.
“Hey man, we didn’t mean nothin’, we just needed some Nuyen, s’all. Don’t kill me.”
I looked at the punk, cowering in fear and pleading for his life, and had a realization. That would’ve probably been me, on the ground begging for my life, if his buddy had been better at sneaking.
No. I’m not going to die like this, working a shitty job, low pay, only to eventually let my guard down and get mugged on my way home for a few dozen Nuyen. I’m going to die for something more.
In disgust, I lowered my Yamaha and stalked out of the ally. I didn’t want any of them trying to follow me, so I turned invisible right before I hit the streets. I didn’t think they would, but who knows. I wiped my mouth with the corner of a sleeve, it was a little bloody, and I had bruises, but nothing worse.
My guns were still there in their hiding spot when I got there. The first stash I had was behind a pair of loose bricks obscured behind a rusty trash barrel and a foot-high pile of broken pieces of concrete. Not visible from the street, the entire thing was in just the right place to be shadowed over by the neighboring buildings. Even if someone came to sift through the trash or remove the concrete, they’d have to know exactly where to look or else they’d miss it. I removed the Remington first and, making sure it was still carefully wrapped, slung it over a shoulder.
The second cache was ammunition and other odds and ends. I’d hidden my bullets in a few cheap waterproof containers and dumped them in a sewage overflow tunnel. A few months in waste disposal had taught me that the sewage tunnels were almost never dredged. In fact, the only time they were ever disturbed was if they needed to be replaced, which happened around once every fifty years. A few very short-range magnetic clamps secured the canisters to the inside of the tunnel. One at a time, I retrieved my supplies. I first deactivated the clamps with a wireless command from my commlink and then fished the canisters out with an iron pipe and some disposable plastic gloves.
They smelled horrible on the outside, but it was only the inside that I cared about. I popped the seals, and everything was just as I’d left it. Airtight and watertight as it was, it even smelled like machine oil. I put the empty canisters back, submerged in the waste, and walked away.
“Now what’s a hood like you doing in a shop like this?”
The clerk eyed me over the register, one hand on the countertop, and the other someplace beneath. Despite the slightest bit of honey in her greeting, she was doubtless ready to pull up some sort of gun to deter thieves. At least that’s what she wanted a thief to think.
“You don’t look much like a mage either.” I remarked, as I wound my way through the tight confines of the dimly-lit store. It was true too; she looked nothing like the media stereotype of a tattooed mystic with a sleek outfit and shiny focus. The register was all the way at the back, and the place was jam-packed full of “magical” paraphernalia. Most of it was junk; the trendy kind of trinkets designed to appeal to a teenage spell-slinging street sammi wannabe. Posters, racks of clothing, imitation foci, jewelry, tattooing supplies, this was the place to get everything you needed if you wanted to look like an awakened.
I came up to the counter, and got a better look at the woman. She was a little overweight, mid-thirties. A bit too much makeup, but other than that she didn’t really look like she belonged in this store. No more than three piercings even.
“I’ve heard about your society, and want to join.”
She snorted and immediately relaxed, pulling up the hand from below the counter to fold her arms over her chest.
“Everyone wants to. You need to have magic for that.”
I remained silent. She paused, looked me up and down, and then raised an eyebrow.
“Well! You do have magic. Like you’re new to it too. Of course you can join, what are you interested in learning?”
I narrowed my eyes. The ability to sense an awakened gave me the creeps, and was foreign to me. It was also one of my biggest concerns to keeping a low profile, in both a Shadowrunning life, and a mundane one.
“That. How can I do that?”
The can of soda stood still and motionless. The wind picked up; normally enough to push it over, but I’d weighted the empty can down by pouring a handful of gravel into it before starting.
I lay prone in the grass, aiming the Remington at the can. As the wind changed, I put down the rifle, being careful to keep the muzzle on the medium-sized blanket and out of the dirt. The blanket was small, maybe seven feet by five feet, but enough for what I needed to do. I reached to my right and made a note in my commlink of the wind speed, calculating its effect on the shot. In my time in prison, I’d read historical accounts of snipers doing this stuff on paper, even operating in small teams in order to spot targets and gauge distances. The modern age of gps technology and instant calculations made paper seem old fashioned to me. A spotter would be useful, but paper was just a hindrance to me. I reached left, into the small bag, and pulled out a tool to calibrate the sights. The accuracy in most firefights was fine, but as I’d been learning out here in my practices, not good for longer distances. I was also learning that not only did sights have to be regularly calibrated; they also had to be sighted in at different distances to ensure optimal accuracy.
Holomovies always romanticized this stuff. The sniper would often recalibrate and sight in during a crowded firefight. Bullets whirred all around, explosions, trick hip shots while tightening a bolt on the sights, fisticuffs with the butt of the gun, all while recalibrating a very, very delicate scope. The sniper would then go on to use their updated sights to make an impossibly long shot on the very first try.
In real life, nothing could be more boring1. Recalibrating and sighting in a gun took time, patience, time, several shots, and more time. I’d been at it for an hour at least, not counting the walk out of Kansas City.
I finished my commlink calculations, and picked up the rifle. The can hadn’t moved a micron. I relaxed, slowed my breathing, and fired.
The can jumped off its perch on the rock, gravel spraying everywhere.
It was a lot of work, this practice. I had to get all my equipment together, drag it out into the wilderness, find and set it all up in a sniper perch. I had to do hard work, I had to do math, or at least punch numbers into a calculator. I had to be patient, I had to relax. Then I had to tear everything down and hike back.
But it felt good. A lot better than working day in and out to barely make ends meet.
1: Epic Jack Snipe gun pun!!