Shadowrun: Crossroads (Novel)

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October, 2060

I hate bugs. I always hated them, even as a kid. I think there's just something hardwired, deep in the human brain, that says bugs are wrong somehow. Just looking at them creeps me out. So, naturally, there I was inside the rusting corpse of a factory complex some thirty-five miles outside of the Federal District of Columbia facing down a guy in charge of some bugs bigger than me. Not a nice feeling, let me tell you.

I flatted myself against a support girder along one of the upper walkways of the dimly lit complex and tried to still the sound of my own breathing so I could listen. I heard a distant humming sound echoing through the large open space above the maze of machinery quietly rusting away on the floor of the factory below. It was broken up by random clicks and tapping noises. I tried to ignore it and focused instead on closer sounds that might give away the presence of my quarry.

I heard a faint rattling of the catwalk behind me and to the left and a muffled cry that was just as quickly cut off. I spun around the support girder and leveled my Ares Slivergun across the open space towards the opposite wall and fired off a shot. It went wide of the mark, but I wasn't actually trying to hit anything. Gunfire would endanger the person I'd come here to save, and I had more precise weapons to use than a gun. The plastic fletchettes from the Slivergun smacked against the ferrocrete wall with a loud crack as the dark figure on the other side waved his hand and called out in a harsh language of clicks and buzzes not mean to be spoken with a human tongue.

I ducked behind the girder again and heard a spattering and a loud hiss. A terrible stench filled the air as the acid begin to eat away at the corroded metal, dissolving it. I spun and took a couple of quick steps back to stay out of the small puddle of greenish-yellow liquid that dripped from the edge of the catwalk, taking the liquefying remains of the top of the girder with it as it began to quickly evaporate.