The package has been delivered, the cred-sticks have been handed over and Mr. Johnson is happy with a job well done. But as the runners return home, a silence hangs between them. Brackhaven may consider the case closed but the runners themselves still have a loose end hanging around: one Ork by the name of Calloway.
"We'll have to break him out," Julie finally says and the others nod their agreement, all having arrived at the same conclusion, though through what reasoning only they themselves know. Tiny lovingly pets his guns, making explosion noises under his beard.
After Sam finally gets home, he pours himself a drink and makes a phone-call to an old Lone Star acquaintance. The cop paints him the big picture and it ain't pretty. "They took him to Redmond General Hospital, down in the Barrens. He's on floor 14, still on intensive care. Floor 14 is the Star's own private little hospital wing and it's well guarded. The rest of the hospital ain't very friendly either. There are a lot of rumors that some of the top-surgeons are involved in illegal activities, perhaps even body-snatching. And the body doesn't have to be cold either, if you know what I mean."
Sam passes his info to the others and they agree that it's time to do some scouting. The next morning, the runners head over to Redmond General. Mike and Julie examine floors 13 and 15 while Sam does some Astral checking. Julie 'accidentally' exits the elevator at the 14th floor and is politely but decidedly expelled by the guard. Meanwhile, Sam has discovered that the 14th floor has its own personal Astral barrier.
Julie watches some of the cleaning staff trundle by with their carts and gets an idea. The hospital is serviced by the Redmond Cleaning Service and as it turns out, there has just been a job opening. A mere hour after applying, Julie is pushing a cart of her own, wearing the proud uniform of a cleaner ("If I had some sticks I could make a tent out of this thing"). Still, the baggy clothes may hide the figure but they do not hide a pretty face. Julie sets to work, using her seductive smile to drill a hole through the icy demeanor of another cleaner, who has the much-coveted special badge that allows access to the 14th floor.
She manages to convince the cleaner, a guy named David, to come with her for an after-work coffee. But first she places a call to her dad. 'Dad' tries to convince her to go someplace more suitable but Julie says the coffee shop nearby will do fine and hangs up. Grumbling, Sam climbs into his car and drives on over. In the meantime, Julie pumps an inebriated David for information. She discovers that it takes years before someone is given the special badge and that the cleaners and the guards know each other well. At the end of the evening, Julie lets David drop her off at a fake address, where Sam subsequently picks her up.
The next day, Julie is back to pushing her cart and cleaning up other people's bodily fluids. Trying to keep her mind off the work, she fills her time by trying to come up with ways to get onto the 14th floor.
There's a saying that when opportunity knocks, someone should open the door. Does it matter if the knock comes in the form of an explosion? Not to Julie, who dumps her cart and races for the elevator, punching 14 practically before the sound of the blast has died away. As the doors slide shut, she quickly formulates her plans. If the guards are still present, she'll just pretend to be looking for help. And if they aren't present... Did you know that Julie not only moves like a cat but also smiles as one?
The doors slide open and sure enough, not a cop to be seen. Hurriedly, Julie moves down the hall, checking the door windows until she finally finds what she's looking for: the comatose body of Darren. Then, footsteps sound from around the corner. Julie looks around but the hallway is long and offers no hiding places. Back to plan A.
"David, is that you?" Julie calls out in her best maiden-in-distress voice. Of course, it isn't. "Oh officer, there was a terrible explosion and I got scared and I came looking for my boyfriend David and and and I couldn't find him." The cop escorts her to the guard office where she's told to wait. The moment the guy has left, Julie vaults the counter and makes her escape.
"The Government says you can't have it. We say you can. We're Ares Arms."
Popular and long-running ad campaign from Ares Arms
Later that night, the explosion is all over the news. As it turns out, a bomb was planted in the meta-human ward on the 13th floor of the hospital. The runners curse their luck. Security is going to be tighter than a snake's ass now. They realise that if they want to get Darren out any time soon, they're going to have to take some risks. A plan is made and everyone sets out to acquire the gear that will be needed and to make the necessary preparations.
The next day, the group reunites and heads for the hospital in a van provided by Mike. After some driving around ("I could swear there was a garage here.") they park the van in a back alley and enter the personnel entrance of the hospital, with disguises courtesy of Sam's makeover spell. A hospital bed is acquired on the way and when the elevator doors finally open on the 14th floor, the guard sees a Dwarven and a human doctor, with a sheet-covered body lying in a hospital bed that's being pushed by an Ork nurse. The guard gets up to throw them out and while he's arguing with Julie, Tiny tasers him.
In the meantime, Sam has left his body lying on the bed and examines the entrance Astrally. Two watcher spirits are on guard. He squashes one of them but the other escapes and zips off to sound the alarm. Sam's body sits up in the bed, rips the sheets off and says: "Let's move it! We've got company on the way." The runners hurry through the entrance. As the four reach the main hallway, they see two cops on guard, one at each end of the corridor. Sam hits the one in the east corridor with a sleep spell, while Mike and Julie dash for the other. They reach him before he has the opportunity to fire too many shots and they start hitting him with everything they've got. Unfortunately, the armored cop is harder to crush than a cockroach and the fight soon turns into a desperate struggle to keep him from using his gun. In the end, it's Tiny's guns that have to settle the matter in blood.
Sam runs up to the badly wounded cop and heals him just enough to keep him from buying the farm. In the meantime, Julie has loaded an unconscious Mike onto the hospital bed and is busy unhooking Darren from the intensive care unit.
"Friends help you move. Best friends help you move bodies."
Feral, Cat Shaman
The three remaining runners roll the bed into the elevator and press the button for ground floor. On the 6th floor the elevator stops, but the nurse who tries to get on is told to take a hike by Tiny. The elevator finally reaches the main hall and the three give a sigh of relief when the doors open and nobody is waiting for them on the other side. The bed is rolled out the back-entrance, stuffed in the van and they drive off.
"Darren ain't doing to well," Julie says, keeping her hand pressed to a wound of her own. When they've gotten far enough away from the hospital, Sam pulls over to the side of the road and uses the last of his power to stabilize the Ork. Swaying on his feet, he gets back into the driver's seat. He waits a few moments until the world stops spinning and then drives on.
Darren is stashed in a coffin hotel while the others head for places where they can lay low for a while. The van is ditched in a toxic pond at an old abandoned factory site and Mike wonders how he's going to explain this to his fixer.
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