“Blondie, you there?” Ellida’s ‘link crackled into life as she headed south on I-5. She smiled and flicked an ARO to answer. “I’m here, Legless. What’s shakin’?” “Got an armored limo on the 520 bridge. Too heavy for my rig. Thought of you.” “Yeah? Thought of me for how much?” “Twenty percent.” She snorted. “Make it ten and I’ll come save your ass.” “You’re killing me.” When she didn’t answer, letting him stew in the notion that he had called in the contract acceptance to dispatch and now couldn’t fulfill it—a serious black mark for any driver on a city contract—he sighed. “Fine. Ten percent. Someday, Blondie.” “Yes, but not today. Send me the details and I’ll send you your cut when the job’s done.” “Roger that. Out.” She made her way to the 520 bridge and told GridGuide that she needed a priority turnaround. Like magic, a gap opened up so she could make a U-turn and pull in front of the broken-down limo. Traffic was still moving smoothly, if a bit congested, thanks to the automatic rerouting of cars around the distressed vehicle. Taking a couple of moments to look over the limo before she got out of her truck, Ellida saw that it was indeed armored, that there were two people inside, and that it was carrying some serious equipment in the back. Closer inspection through the tinted windows revealed a woman with a sheathed sword and a naked pistol scanning the traffic that flowed around the car. The other person seemed to be a young kid in a medical pod. The well-dressed troll standing next to the limo was also armed with some sort of pistol. The tailored suit hid it well, but not well enough. Bodyguards. Or armed chauffeur and armed nursemaid. Same thing.
The presence of the kid assured Ellida that this wasn’t going to be some sort of hijack. She nodded to herself and climbed out of her rig. As she did, she remotely opened the drone rack on the top of the cab and ordered Tekkei, her Dragonfly, to be her eyes in the sky. Just in case. You never knew with a stop. Especially since some drivers insisted on manually driving their cars like idiots. Or someone decided to spy on and record the whole thing—which happened with rich people. The troll came around the limo to meet her. He turned out to be the smallest troll she’d ever met. He can’t be more than twenty-five centimeters taller than me, Ellida marveled. Being a two-meter-tall Nordic blond, she liked her men big and unbreakable. She smiled to herself. He probably thinks I’m the biggest human woman he’s ever met. “What’s the trouble?” Ellida offered her hand. The troll took it in a firm but not crushing handshake. “System’s dead. EMP burst. Maybe.” “Dead-dead, or do you want me to look at it and see if revival is possible?” He gave a shrug. “It’s not going anywhere. You’re welcome to look at it.” He leaned in and she could smell an understated, spicy hint of cologne. “But we’re in kind of a hurry.” She nodded. Ellida understood what “hurry” meant. “Two hundred is the standard fee to get you to the nearest bay.” The troll looked her up and down, glanced at her big rig cab with its attached flatbed, and gave her a half-smile. “Interested in making a bit more than that?” Ellida raised an eyebrow in response. “What would it cost to get us to Boeing Field?” Probably still bodyguards, but … “We expecting company?” The troll looked over his shoulder at the smoothly moving line of traffic. “Maybe.”
Ellida put Tekkei on alert for fast, erratic-moving vehicles and then calculated. She really wanted to replace the old Hedgehog jammer with an Armadillo, and that last couple of grand was proving to be hard to earn. “Five thousand. Up front.” “Done.” No hesitation. No flinching. Frak. The troll was connected. “Damn. Should’ve asked for more.” This time, the troll’s smile was handsome and genuine. “Probably.” She returned the smile and got to work. Quadriga, her truck, had all the bells and whistles she could afford—a thirteen-speed Paccar MZ 1000 HP engine, drone rack, mechanical arms and winch, and a few extras for when times got tough. Right now, times were easy and she attached the winch to the front of the limo. Then she maneuvered the arms into hauling the world’s heaviest paperweight onto her flatbed. Tekkei chirped in her head, warning her of two vehicles—a Suzuki Mirage and a modified Thundercloud Contrail—moving up fast, weaving through traffic. Ellida frowned and looked at what the Dragonfly was seeing: two motorcyclists—one human or elf, one obviously ork. Both of them in blue and silver. She glanced at the troll. He was looking back toward the east end of the bridge. “Those your people coming up?” He nodded, continuing to look back. “Think we’ve got some time, but …” He left the unspoken request for her to hurry it up hanging in the air. Ellida finished getting the limo on the flatbed and locked it in place with both chains and a maglock. You couldn’t be too secure when toting rich people’s goods. The whole time, the kid in the medical pod watched her with worried interest. Ellida did her best to ignore him. She didn’t want anyone to know she could see inside the vehicle. That could lead to some unpleasantness. “See no evil,” Ellida muttered to herself before straightening up. “Let’s go.” She watched him glance at the limo for a moment and saw his throat move. As he did, the two motorcycles pulled up. It was clear the runners belonged together— they weren’t quite in uniform, but they wore similar-enough colors. “Mind if I ride in the cab with you?” The troll’s smile was hopeful. “Also, I need to pay you.” She shrugged. “All right.” Ellida could think of multiple ways to kill her passenger if he got uppity. No one messed with a rigger in their vehicle.
After the two of them settled into the cab, she sent him the account information on where to transfer the funds. “You can call me Ellida.” “Trollface.” The nuyen tallied up in her account. “Trollface?” He shrugged and smiled, “What you see is what you get.” Again she found herself smiling at him. The damned troll probably had tailored pheromones going. “Good to know.” As soon as they started rolling, Tekkei alerted her to a third motorcyclist on a BMW 2065. Another one in silver and blue. This one was hard to miss. His AR made him look like he and the motorcycle were on fire with silver-and-blue flame. The flaming dude shot past her and through traffic up ahead. “Outrider?” “Yep.” “Aren’t you guys a bit … matchy-matchy for shadowrunners?” “Not runners.” Ellida glanced at Trollface. He smiled at her and said nothing more. She thought about what she knew of the area and frowned, setting off a data search while she checked the traffic between here and Boeing Field. Something was snarling up I-5 South in a major way. Just as she was going to mention it, her search came back with her answer. A go-gang? A small go-gang on escort duty? With money? None of it made sense. Instead of asking questions, Ellida plotted a route around the I-5 snarl. SR-99. Of course. Right through some nasty territory. “I-5’s frakked. We’ve got two choices: get stuck in traffic or go SR-99 past the shipyards.” She said no more and let the client decide. Trollface was quiet for a moment, then said, “SR-99.” Ellida nodded and put her hidden attack drones, Frick and Frack, on alert. They were a pair of Aztecnology Crawlers armed with a pistol and a taser, respectively. While she did that and headed onto SR-99, she listened to Trollface plan.
“脆皮（Crispy），在船坞区之前的中心区搞出点动静，但在我们通过前不要搞得太大。灵活（Slægan，冰岛语），你和他去。拦着他别让他烧了整个地方。独行客（Solo），你殿后。我们会为你清出一片处理问题的干净区域的。”他转向她。“不要停下。无论发生了什么。带我们到飞机场。” 艾丽达并没有看向他。她正忙于驾驶，通过鉄鶏审视着车流，并且查询网域导航来搜寻问题。“不要教你的奶奶怎么吮蛋（Don’t teach your grandma to suck eggs，不要班门弄斧）。”巨魔脸并没有用语言回应，但她在眼角的余光中看到他点了点头。 当他们通过船坞区的时候，一场盛大的暴乱正在中心区进行着，阻挡了SR-99和I-5两条路来的车流。艾丽达得以拥有一条一路开向杜瓦密许水道（Duwamish Waterway）的通畅道路，这给了她一个能清楚看到在高架桥上等待的骑手们的视野。 “我们前面有麻烦了。” 然后她看到了搭在高架桥边缘的障碍物。那些混混们正努力想把它弄过栏杆。巨魔脸也看到了这些。“操。是分解者（Disassemblers，西雅图中心区最臭名昭著的帮派之一，见这里。）。独行客，当个乖女孩，把这帮混球做掉。” 殿后的摩托车以惊人的速度飞掠而过，直直冲向坡道。混混们，包括庞大的巨魔们、一个兽人，以及几个人类，扭头来对付独行客，但他们并没有准备好应对他们面对的。这位女性比她看起来厉害得多，她的第一脚就真的把第一个来对付她的混混的脑袋踢了下来。 艾丽达于是扭头专注于她自己的工作，把他们带出险境。驾驶室顶棚上一个面板滑开了，然后一个带着一对阿瑞斯MP-LMG(轻机枪)的弹出式炮塔从中出现。她瞄准了高架桥上了混混们。她并不需要把他们都干掉。她只需要干掉足够的数量，让他们不能够把障碍物弄到道路上来。 在她以受控点射的方式向他们开火来保证她不会浪费太多弹药的同时，她周围几辆车的司机陷入慌张，猛踩下刹车然后旋转着失控了。幸好没有出事。而高架桥上没有在与独行客战斗的混混们纷纷开火还击。巨魔脸在子弹击中挡风玻璃时低头缩身躲避，但艾丽达却没有。她买了钱能够买到的最好的防弹玻璃。但她还是对这一番袭击对于车子的定制外漆的伤害露出了苦脸。驷马战车在这之后可需要非常多的TLC（Tender Love Care，温柔而充满爱的维护）了。 当很显然分解者们已经失去了设置障碍物的能力的时候，他们中一些跳上了摩托车来逃离飞速杀戮着的独行客，并追向拖车和它的货物。其中一个疯狂的混混跳到了驾驶室上，重重地着陆但努力抓紧不放——至少直到次欧（无人机之一）爬出他的开口并用它装载的柯尔特M1991一枪打在他脸上。那个混混尖叫着翻下了车。那虽然是把老枪，但它还是完成了任务。
劇透 - :
“Crispy, make a distraction in the downtown area just before the shipyards but don’t get it cranky until after we’ve passed. Slaegan, go with him. Keep him from burning the place down. Solo, you’ve got the rear. We should have a clean field for you to deal with things.” He turned to her. “Don’t stop. No matter what. Get us to the airfield.” Ellida didn’t look at him. She was too busy driving, scanning the traffic with Tekkei, and checking GridGuide for problems. “Don’t teach your grandma to suck eggs.” Trollface didn’t respond in words but she saw him nod from the corner of her eye. By the time they passed the shipyards, there was a fullblown riot going on in the downtown district that blocked traffic on both SR-99 and I-5. Ellida had a clear line all the way down to the Duwamish Waterway, which gave her a good view of the bikers waiting on the overpass. “We got trouble ahead.” Then she saw the barrier half-balanced on the edge of the overpass. The gangers were struggling to get it over the railing. Trollface saw it, too. “Frak. Disassemblers. Solo, be a good girl and deal with these bastards.” The rear motorcycle sped by at tremendous speed, heading toward the off ramp. The gangers, huge trolls, an ork, and several humans shifted to meet Solo, but they weren’t ready for what they got. The woman was more than she seemed as her first kick literally knocked the head off the first ganger who came to meet her. Ellida then turned to focus on her job and get them out of harm’s way. A panel slid back in the hood of the cab, and a pop-up turret with a pair of Ares MP-LMGs appeared. She took aim at the gangers on the overpass. She didn’t have to get them all. She just had to get enough to keep them from dropping the barrier onto the freeway. As she fired at them in controlled bursts, making sure she didn’t waste too much ammo, the drivers of the few cars around her panicked, slamming on brakes and spinning out of control. It was just as well. The gangers on the overpass who weren’t fighting with Solo returned fire. While Trollface ducked and winced as the bullets hit the window, Ellida didn’t. She had bought the best bulletproofing money could buy. Though she grimaced at what the assault was doing to her custom paintjob. Quadriga would need a lot of TLC after this. When it was clear the Disassemblers weren’t going to be able to drop the barrier, several jumped on motorcycles to escape the whirling death of Solo and pursue the rig and its cargo. One crazy ganger jumped to the top of the cab, landing hard but managing to hold on—at least until Frick crawled out of his hole and shot the ork in the face with its attached Colt M1991. The ganger tumbled off, screaming. It was an old gun, but it still did the job.
She heard Trollface call everyone in for escort as the rig went by the overpass and the first onramp. Ellida saw Solo catch up to one of the pursuers and kick him into a ditch. “Slaegan is going to have to jump on. Don’t hurt him.” “The ork?” “Yeah.” Ellida nodded. “Where?” “There.” Looking up, she watched Slaegan toss a troll onto the freeway, where he tumbled to the side and popped up like the world’s biggest whack-a-mole. He was too far to the side for her to run over. She saw him readying himself to jump at the truck. Slaegan was doing the same. If she swerved, both would miss. She would have to trust that Slaegan could deal with him. As both took flying leaps for the big rig, Tekkei alerted her that another flying drone had come into its airspace and was tracking her. Through her eyes in the sky, she saw that it was an old, refitted Strato-9 with Disassemblers’ colors. Stolen from— or sold by—Lone Star, the thing was still bad news. She shifted her focus to driving and the Dragonfly only, trusting that Trollface and his gang would deal with the rest. Ellida jumped fully in, becoming the Dragonfly as it flew above the Strato-9. Assuming the rigger in charge of the drone knew what they were doing, they’d already seen her. She watched for a moment to see if it would respond. When it didn’t, she dived down and landed on top of it. The resulting shock just about knocked Ellida back into her body. The rig swerved to the side, almost tumbling Slaegan off the back of the flatbed. She mentally shook her head and held onto the top of the drone, hoping the tazer function was a one-shot deal. Without waiting to find out, she set her vibro-blade pinchers to work and began gutting the enemy drone from the top. The second shock still hurt but had a lot less punch. It didn’t slow her. When the Strato-9 failed and started to fall, Ellida tried to take off. That’s when she discovered that one of the shocks had killed her wings and she couldn’t fly. With a grimace of regret, she pulled out of Tekkei and let it fall to its destruction. It had been a good little drone, and she’d miss it. It didn’t matter that it was cheap. It had been one of her first, and you always care for your first.
Coming back to herself, she watched Slaegan live up to his namesake and knock the troll off the back of the rig with a sledgehammer to the face. Crispy had rejoined the party and had let loose a flaming oil slick several meters long that took out another motorcyclist. Solo had a sword out and slashed a motorcyclist in red armor through the neck. “Is that all of them?” she asked, still mourning the loss of Tekkei. Trollface nodded. “Yeah. I think so. At least until we get to the airfield.” “I hope this kid is worth it.” He gave her a long look. Then nodded. “Yeah. He is. At least to his parents he is.” “What’s wrong with him?” “Nothing. Not anymore.” She was still debating about asking for more information when he answered her unspoken question. “It was VITAS-induced organ failure. His family got a replacement. Deltaware.” VITAS. No wonder the kid was in a medical pod. “And he’s fixed? Not communicable?” Ellida shivered at the thought of VITAS breaking out again in the Seattle area. And deltaware? She’d heard about a theft at a local high-tech body shop. Her estimation of Trollface and his go-gang jumped up a notch. “Doc fixed him right up. He’s good. Or we wouldn’t have taken the run.” “I should have asked for more money.” Trollface smiled that handsome smile at her. “Well, there’s more money where that came from for a good smuggler and rigger. If you want more work, that is.” She used the turn into Boeing Field to delay her answer. “Look sharp. We’re here.” “I always look sharp.”
Ellida smiled as she scanned the gates, the suited people waiting, and the Gulfstream Luxe V jet beyond them. There was a sense of heightened awareness now that the big rig was here but no sense of fear of attack. One of the black-suited men waved the Hauler through the gates. As she parked, the gates were closed and more people in armor appeared with weapons. They set up facing outward. She wanted to spend some time examining that beauty of a luxury private jet, but instead she went to work unloading the limo from the flatbed. She stood by the front of Quadriga looking over the damage to the cab and its paintjob while the medical pod with the kid was taken from the limo to the plane. She looked forward to giving it the new paint job it deserved. The rest of the gang gathered up and Trollface sauntered over to talk to them. Crispy looked a bit singed. Slaegan was bloody but didn’t seem to care. Solo was missing part of her jacket, and her exposed flesh glowed with magical armor. The woman from the limo walked over to Solo, who took off her helmet. It was clear that the two women were twins. They talked quietly, then looked at Trollface. As soon as the kid was away, Ellida assumed that Boeing Airfield wouldn’t want a dead limo sitting in the middle of their road and got to work getting it back on the flatbed. She noticed the left mechanical arm hitching as it wrestled the limo into place. Another expense to deal with. Frick let her know that Trollface and Slaegan were headed her way as she locked the limo into place. She turned to them. “So. Where do you want the limo taken now?” Slaegan and Trollface looked at each other. Trollface shrugged. “Keep it. Consider it a bonus for a job well done.” She glanced at the retreating plane. “They don’t want it back?” “Nah. It did its job.” He gave her that half-smile again. “Mind giving us a ride back the way we came? Just to Downtown.” Looking at the troll and the ork, Ellida shrugged. “Sure, but one of you has to ride in the back.” Slaegan didn’t respond with words. He just nodded and hauled himself onto the flatbed and got into the limo. The other gangers got back on their motorcycles, the women riding double, and readied themselves to leave. As Ellida and Trollface got into her cab, Trollface grinned wide. “So, got time for dinner tonight?” She shook her head with a small smile. “Maybe in a few hours. I’ll message you when I get off work.” “My treat,” he added as he settled in. Considering that she would just barely break even without the extra bonus of the limo due to what her poor rig had gone through and everything she would have to fix or replace, Ellida nodded and said, “Damn straight.”