“Wooo! 2016 is nearly over people!” Laramy shouted at the stop of his voice popping out some champagne and throwing cards at people.
Nasir smiled at him.
“What?” Laramy asked.
“It’s just good to see you so happy,” Nasir said. “You had a bit of trouble getting into this group to begin with.”
“Ah,” Laramy said. “I was in denial back then. Now? I’ve got my friends, I’ve got my seminars, I’ve even got a new program - in another faction to just be absurd of course – to make the corp draw. What’s not to love? We all have our place in the Netrunner world. If mine is jank, then, well… I am glad to call you all my jank cousins.”
Laramy, already a little drunk, hugged a shocked Iain Stirling as he walked passed with a plate of sandwiches.
“Just because it is new year’s I’m going to let that slide,” Iain said nodding slightly awkwardly. “But you keep your hands to yourself the rest of the year.”
Nasir allowed himself a little chuckle. His new year’s shindig was going well; the jank runners were all having fun. Silhouette was talking to Nero about how stupid peopl who wore multiple colours were.
“I know right!” Nero was replying constantly to a barely listening Silhouette. “Pick one colour! Pick one thing! I did. I’m good at one thing, I wear one colour.”
Iain and Sunny were sitting with the sandwiches talking about the huge piles of credits they had amassed in some games, and how much they loved the late game.
Adam was over in the corner trying to teach charades to an Apex that had come in using a PAD whilst the Professor was busy trying to code a more optimal DJ. Nasir had been chatting with Khan about timing windows until she had gone off to play with birbs again muttering something about a great new idea.
It was at that moment that Exile walked in and Nasir could instantly see that something was wrong.
“What is it?” Nasir asked hurrying over to him.
“We have a problem,” Exile said showing Nasir his scratched up Lemuria Codecraker’s screen interface.
“What am I looking at?” Nasir asked.
“Look at these cache transactions I intercepted,” Exile said. “Selling to Aesops and look what they’re then spending the last of their influence on.”
Nasir’s eyes darted amongst the transactions as the Professor trotted over and peaked over his shoulder.
“Oh,” Nasir said. “Poor Noise.”
“What’s that?” Iain’s ears picked up. “Are we feeling sorry for that Seedy little waste of folder space?”
The party was beginning to come to a standstill as everyone realised something was going on.
“What’s happening?” asked Silhouette. “Wait don’t tell me I can find out.”
“We haven’t got time for that,” Nasir said.
“It won’t take a click,” she said.
“It’s Noise,” Exile said. “I’ve been tracking some cache purchases of his; it was one of the common connections we had. And well…. he’s…”
“I’m nearly there,” Silhouette said.
“He’s bought that which we do not name,” Exile said. “And I think he is planning to use it tonight.”
“Oh…. Well…” Iain said. “That’s…. sad.”
“We have to do something,” Khan said returning from the bathroom with a birb in tow. “We can’t just let it happen.”
“You’re right,” Nasir said.
“I don’t see what it has to do with us,” Iain said.
“What’s the thing that shall not be named?” Sunny asked.
“I suppose you don’t worry about it,” Nasir said. “I…. well.. it’s.”
Iain whispered in Sunny’s ear.
“Oh,” she said. “That. It’s OK. We don’t have to say it aloud. I know it wounds some of you.”
“All of us,” Khan said sadly.
“We all know what we mean,” Exile said. “Saying it out loud would be entirely superfluous. What do we do?”
“We have a nice party,” Iain said. “Good riddance to him. He was the whole reason nobody ever tried to have a late game; and Sunny and I will be glad to be rid of him.”
“Come on Iain nobody’s going to not rush,” Nero said. “Get over it.”
“In the right meta…” he said.
“This isn’t important right now,” Nasir said. “We need to act now.”
“It’s rude to rush us,” Sunny said fitting in to both conversations at once, 2 links if you will.
“We have no choice,” Exile said. “It is happening now. We should go there. Intervene.”
“But why?” Adam asked looking up. “Apex is also sending some symbols that I think indicate confusion. Or possibly the eternal hunger that will not sate and will someday
consume us all.”
“Because whether he wants to admit it or not,” the Professor said doffing a new top hat. “He is one of us now. And we jank runners stick together. Where do we head?”
“Well he’s being evicted tomorrow from his middle tier apartment,” Exile said. “I suspect he’ll be there.”
“I’ll find out the room number,” Silhouette said. “Give me some time. And once we know where is then it is easy.”
“We still need to be able to get in there remember,” Nero said. “I mean… even you remember that sometimes.”
“Not listening,” Silhouette said.
“The middle tier runners are having their own party over on Wyldside,” Khan said. “One of them might give us an access code for the apartment block.”
“Good idea,” Nasir said. “OK. So some of us need to go there, some to the apartment, and some of us better stay here just to act as a sort of HQ. Who here has a Sports Hopper we can take?”
There was silence.
“Really? Nobody slotting that? It’s a good vehicle guys.” Exile said.
“Well where’s yours at if it’s so good?” Nero asked.
“I’ve got link already and clickless draw,” Exile said.
“Has anyone got any vehicles at all?” Nasir asked to try and bring the conversation back.
Keys were held aloft in the air to this.
“Of course,” Nasir sighed.
On the back of the Professor’s Qianju PT Nasir leant forward and shouted.
“Out of interest… why?” Nasir asked.
“Oh well in this era of Hard Hitting News it is quite the useful find,” the Professor said driving through a ‘shortcut’ he knew.
“But… wait…. How does it help? Doesn’t it avoid one tag for one click?” Nasir said.
“Exactly!” the Professor beamed. “Though it does cost a click a turn half the time. But it DOES save 2 credits from clearing the tag!”
Nasir looked down at the 2 credit price tag on the bike and shook his head.
“Are you sure that you’re good to drive?” Exile shouted gripping onto Laramy as he raced through the streets.
“Definitely!” Laramy shouted manically. “The trick is to go so fast that everything else is going too fast. Then you overtake them.”
“Exactly!” Laramy said as he stalled the bike.
Nasir and the Professor made their way in to the middle tier party. Coldplay played over the speaker system.
All around the room people were hobnobbing and sharing their stories of the year; cuts they had made and even Store Championships won.
“Can we have your attention please?” Nasir shouted at the top of his voice but was ignored.
“I can sort this,” the Professor said as he tapped onto his Pad.
“What are you doing?” Nasir asked.
“Disrupting their music.”
“With a Disruptor.”
“Why do you even have one of those?”
“Well, I mean… why not?” Professor asked. “It’s no influence!”
Nasir couldn’t help but admire the way that, at this exact moment, the Professor had exactly what was needed as the music stopped for a second. It immediately initiated again, but quieter.
“Good enough,” Professor said.
“Hey!” Edward Kim shouted. “Who messed up the music? Oh look. People that I used to know. And no longer need to associate with. Get out before I… how do I put it…
feed you to one armed Ice feast.”
“What?” Nasir asked. “We’re not ice.”
“No…. well,” Kim said. “I’ll still do it.”
“I thought it was a two armed Ice feast anyway,” Professor said. “Ice feast is a Whizzard deck….”
“Not originally,” Edward said. “It was MY deck first I…”
“Easy Edward,” Quetzal said besides him. “Didn’t we agree that anger like that was for other places, for the person you were?”
“You’re right,” Kim said. “But they’re still not welcome here.”
“We’re only here because Noise is in trouble,” Nasir said. “He is about to do something very stupid and we need to go and help him. We have friends waiting to go inside the building to get to him but we need to get the access code to get in.”
“Are you sure there isn’t another way in?” Omar asked suddenly from behind Nasir making him jump. “I find there are always ways in…”
“No,” Nasir said. “We’ve played this out.”
“You lot have gone soft ever since you’ve got no Anarchs,” Reina said. “There’s always another way in.”
“Well maybe you can teach us that,” Nasir said. “It can’t be long before one or other you will belong again. Not just Noise.”
“Please,” Reina said. “I’ve got access to the Anarch card pool. How janky can I get? Noise just had further to fall. If you ask me he brought this on himself.”
“Then how would you get in?” Nasir said.
“Economic advantage,” Reina said. “Buy your way in.”
“You know we can’t do that,” Professor said. “Not when we’re trying to be quick. Just…. Help us can’t you?”
Professor looked around the room and Nasir began to appeal to the others.
“Chaos Theory, Kit – for Shaper solidarity? Null? You can write it off as your good deed for the year. Jesminder? Nobody will ever know! Come on people… Gabe! Come on Gabe! You’re both core set. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
Gabe paused for a moment and began to consider.
“Don’t you remember those early days?” Exile said. “He used to talk about those first days. Before even Andy… how great you were and how you bonded.”
“It is amazing how fast things can change,” Gabe said. “If you can help him in his new role… Here is the access code.”
Gabe ran over to them, gaining a credit and a card for doing so, and handed over the code.
“Thank you Gabe,” Nasir said.
“You’re alright,” Gabe said before whispering. “And the more of you shapers there are around the less people think program trashing works.”
“That’s it!” Exile said tapping in the code Nasir had sent him. “Let’s go.”
He and Laramy ran upstairs as Silhouette texted them the apartment Noise was in. They realised that they had already climbed too far and they ran downstairs again and hammered on the door.
“Go away,” came the voice from inside.
“Please let us in Noise,” Laramy said. “We have something important to tell you.”
“I won’t be stopped,” Noise said.
“Then what’s the danger is there hearing us out?” Exile asked.
It was at that moment that Ken Tenma appeared behind them.
“Did somebody call for a lockpick?” Ken asked.
“No but… that would be useful,” Exile said. “Why do you have a lockpick?”
“Seventeen influence,” Ken said throwing it over. “You’d be amazed how few cards people haven’t tried to make me use. Thing is I figure I owe you jank runners a
favour. So many ideas start off with you and end up with me; you get in there and you make him see the light. I will take my leave of you now.”
“Why?” Exile asked. “You could help us.”
“No,” Ken said. “Somewhere out there somebody is 2 influence short of an Andy deck. And they’re taking me for a spin.”
“How do you know?”
“Somebody is always two influence short on an Andy deck and going to take me for a spin,” he said. “Off to Jnet.”
Ken sped off.
“Do try to keep upppp!” he shouted.
Exile and Laramy used the lockpick to burst into Noise’s apartment and found him slumped at the foot of his bed with the bottle already in his hand.
“Come on Noise it doesn’t have to be like this,” Exile said.
“Really?” Noise said. “What choice do I have?”
“Still,” Laramy said. “There are other ways.”
They all looked at the bottle in Noise’s hand. The label – Rebirth – clearly visible.
“You can only ever have one y’know,” Exile said. “You can’t ever come back. You’d never mill again.”
“I barely mill now,” noise said. “Those days are over.”
On the floor was Noise’s notebook. Handwritten on it was a heart with the writing “CD and Noise 4ever”. On the screen the World’s 2016 Final played on repeat.
“It was going to be me man,” Noise said. “Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t.”
“The meta changes,” Exile said.
“No,” Noise said. “Him and me, we were special. So many were special…”
Noise flipped over the noteback and so many hearts with other initials in them showing the devotion.
“And now… now…”
Noise gestures to his own apartment.
“I went into a rage early and tried to mess the place up.”
Exile and Laramy looked around and couldn’t help but notice that the place was mostly intact.
“I don’t even have enough recurring credits to trash my own apartment,” Noise began to sob and went to drink the bottle.
In a flash Laramy leapt forward as Exile took a grappling hook from trash and both of them managed to get the bottle from him.
“Give it back!” Noise said. “I’m still an Anarch. Even with a blank ID I can still beat you!”
“It’s not about that anymore,” Laramy said. “It’s about the love. Exile, show him the album.”
Exile took out a paper album and began to open it up.
“These are the players that have been with me since their first games,” he said. “This is what you have to look forward to. See this one? He still loves Freelance Coding contract. He still uses me with the new conspiracy breakers.”
Noise began to look through the photos.
“I don’t recognise these cards,” Noise muttered.
“No,” Laramy said. “Neither will anyone. Who knows what the future holds? Amped Hyperdriver multiple Mass Install turns for you? Maybe you’ll Chopbot all your Caches
now. Maybe you’ll apocalypse. The future is yours.”
“Mass Install?” Noise scoffed. “What… Mass Install three viruses? Sure! I guess I’ll just… actually that’s three cards in the bin. That’s as good an access ratio as Maker’s Eye… And even if they’re all operations those are operations the corp doesn’t have… This could… This could work.”
Noise began to scribble down on pieces of paper.
“Should we tell him how absurdly situational that is?” Laramy whispered.
“Not yet,” Exile whispered. “Let him have this.”
“Guys! Did you know that uninstall is no influence! I can recur caches all day long!” Noise said.
“Really?” Exile asked. “Sounds great! Oh and…. Do you really need this?”
Exile held up the Rebirth.
“No,” Noise said. “Chuck it.”
Exile threw it out of the window.
“Happy new year buddy.”
“To you too…. Jank brother.”
Happy new year all.
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"Guy, you are often right for all the wrong reasons. And if you are wrong, it is always for right reasons." - Brendan .
The Praetor of Jank
The Praetor of Jank
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Nice fic Guy, enjoyed the read
I'm not sleeving up Nasir again... #Relapse
I'm not sleeving up Nasir again... #Relapse
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