Favoring her right side, Shepard walked close the wall, occasionally leaning on it for a breath. She was exhausted from running and the bullet wound on her abdomen didn’t bring any comfort either. She knew she needed to find a place to hide, and then a street doc before the bullet killed her – or something worse in The Sprawl did instead. Having only visited the tourist area where cops like herself could go for information with decent chances of leaving alive, she was far out of her element and vulnerable.
Suddenly, she looked down and herself and realized that her typical trite outfit now would attract attention like a soy steak in a nest of maggots. She hurried gingerly to a nearby dumpster, swearing under her breath as she looked inside for anything to cover herself with. Muscles firing on pure reaction and adrenaline, she spun around with her pistol in hand when the sound of steps on cement echoed behind her. Where she expected a body to be in front of her there was nothing, but instead a dozen meters further was a massive troll. The sudden extension sent an extremely sharp pain up from her side and her right hand reflexively dropped down from supporting the gun to ease the tug on her bullet wound. She sighed, knowing that show of weakness only enticed the troll into attacking even more. Still, she managed,
“Just back off asshole and no one has to get hurt.” In response, the trolled laughed and lifted an enormous shotgun, flexing his over-sized muscles and showing no sign of backing down. Shepard exhaled and aimed her pistol, pulling the trigger when her hands became steady. The bullet hit target perfectly, knocking the shotgun from the troll’s hands. Oddly, though, where it should have just fallen, it instead seemed to find resistance in the clear air beneath it. It spun as it hit nothing and landed slightly off to the side. Shepard wanted to try and understand that odd event of gravity, but instead had to brace herself for combat as the troll raged. As she watched his body, trying to read his next movement, he suddenly became still and wide-eyed. He stared straight at her and seemed to be looking her up and down with a new perspective. Shepard couldn’t believe it, but he seemed frightened of her. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, she squared her shoulders and inhaled in an attempt to add to the limited intimidating stature that she apparently suddenly possessed. A few quiet seconds passed until the troll cried out, turned around, and ran down the alley. Shepard kept her pistol trained on his back, not certain exactly of what had just occurred between herself and the massive troll. When he was a safe distance away, she hid her pistol back underneath her jacket.
After scanning the area around for any other onlookers and deciding it was clear, she advanced towards the massive shotgun on the ground. Knowing that this weapon was likely illegal and in the hands of a killer, she decided to destroy it. As she set it down and began to take it apart, she heard a soft voice from behind her say,
“No… don’t…” Whirling to face the voice, Shepard saw no one. She squinted and waited a moment before speaking.
“Why not?” She asked the empty space.
“It’s valuable.” Replied the voice without a body.
“Great, and now I’m losing my mind and hearing voices.” She stood up and placed the disassembled pieces of the weapon into the dumpster, keeping the firing pin in her own jacket pocket.
(I don’t remember… Coming soon…)
The kid brought her to an incredibly well-hidden room in a ruined old home. She climbed up into the small stony hideout and as soon as she sat down, her exhaustion overtook her and she succumbed to fatigue, falling asleep with her back propped up against the wall. For a few hours she slept, and during that time, Jin willed a surprising amount of courage forth to approach her and magically heal her bullet wound. The shy young boy then went back to his corner of the hideout where he hid the shotgun parts under a loose brick.
The next morning Shepard asked Jin if he knew Silver Sammy, and when the boy nodded, she asked him to take her to him. She offered him 100 credits for that service and the boy eagerly agreed to the deal. He also offered her some tattered clothing that stank of death, which she accepted gratefully. As she changed clothing, she transferred her last possessions from her jacket to her current clothing, including her pistol and her officer badge. Despite trying to hide the badge from the boy, his keen perception caught the brass, but he did not show any sign of noticing.
Jin took Shepard to The Pickled Fish – a common hangout for Silver Sammy. However, the door was locked and from the peek-hole, a voice explained that “Love Fists” was away and so no one could be allowed in at the time. The woman behind the door also explained that Sammy had gone with a troupe of gangers down the street. On this lead, Shepard thanked the woman and quickly departed with Jin in tow. Following the woman’s directions, the walked down the street in search of Sammy. On the way, Shepard heard a vehicle approaching quickly from behind and pushed herself and Jin behind an alleyway corner, out of the road. Speeding by was a car with lights inside, illuminating the passengers and their explicit activity. A few moments later, walking down the street came a physically intimidating blonde woman, who Jin explained was called Love Fists. Jin approached the woman and asked her where Sammy was. Love Fists told Jin, with a very thick accent, that Sammy had been shot at and that he was recovering in an apartment just down the street. Love Fists obliged when asked to take both Shepard and Jin to the apartment. At the door, Love Fists announced her presence to men inside, ordering them to let her in.
As they entered, Sammy saw Shepard and exhaled in a panic, exclaiming “She—” before he caught himself, and corrected awkwardly mid-sentence to “Sheila! What are you doing here?” As her previous informant, Sammy knew who she was and knew how wrong it was for her to be in the Sprawl.
“We need to talk,” Shepard replied.
“I need to sleep first,” Sammy retorted with a bit of frustration, before dragging himself into the bedroom. Sammy motioned for Shepard to follow him inside, so she did, allowing the door to hold for a moment before closing, knowing an invisible individual may want to join.
Inside the room, Sammy’s com’s were lighting up. He spoke briefly to a few contacts, some more useful than others. Eventually he came across a wanted advertisement, offering a hundred-thousand NuYen for Officer Shepard, dead or alive. He told his contact that he wouldn’t pursue that bounty, as he believed no good could come from an offer like that. Sighing at the awful rotating 3D image of her own face, Shepard shook her head.
“They framed me, Sammy” She argued. “They murdered my partner in cold blood.”
Understanding that Sammy needed rest, Shepard left the room. She took a moment by what passed as toilet in this room and took a knife to her hair, cutting it down to what she hoped would be a strong contrast from the bounty photo. She went and sat next to a man bound on the couch. After a few questions, Love Fists explained that the man on the couch had murdered the actual apartment owner – an undercover cop. She also learned a bit about Love Fists and her hatred for gangers, as well as her intriguing interest in what Shepard related to as justice.
When Sammy finally woke up, he asked Jin if he knew a good place for them to lay low for a while. Of course, the boy did, and offered to lead them to a nearby hideout. On the way out, Sammy began to offer the bound man freedom. Shepard interrupted and offered to release him instead, to the dismay of Love Fists who had the same intention. As Shepard led the man outside, Love Fists followed. Shepard thanked the man for dispatching the cop, barely hiding the hiss of anger as the words left her lips, and told him a big reward would be granted to him if he followed her simple instructions. What he did not realize was that Shepard had used the dead officer’s comm-link to call his handlers, leaving an open microphone to the exchange of words between them.
“Thanks for offing that cop. Luckily for you, there is a big reward, but you can’t talk about it to anyone. Hold on to this comm-link, find a safe place, and stay there for two hours. You will be contacted with further instructions to claim your bounty. This place could use more heroes like yourself who are willing to take out cops that threaten our way of life.” She placed the comm-link into his pocket and nodded, removing his bindings. After the man had walked away, Love Fists asked what she had done. Shepard explained that justice would find the man, of that she was certain.
When they arrived at Jin’s hideout, Love Fists quickly realized how much time had passed and remembered that she had a big fight only minutes away from beginning. Sammy knew how important this fight was, so he called in a cab and offered to cover the expensive cost so they could make it to the arena in time. Love Fists instructed the driver to go all the way in to the arena, and so he did.
They crashed into the room and when the crowd saw Love Fists step out of the cab, they grew wild with anticipation for the fight that would soon begin. A massive man sat opposite of her, on what could only be described as a throne made of the highest quality refuse in the arena. He sat upon it, looking down at his opponent, laughing. The announcer introduced the fighters in their corners. Love Fists and the Champion.