Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
It started off nicely, that day. Waking up in bed with a woman always is. I took my time getting back to the place we were all renting – somehow I just didn’t feel like hangin’ with everyone else right then. When I did get back, they were all setting out to meet some ‘laughing guy’ that Stephanie said we had to meet. Since Pete wasn’t around I decided to hang back and watch our stuff. Later Pete showed up – he had apparently spent a large part of the day hangin’ with that bartender he’d hooked up with at the club. Hey, more power to him if you ask me – it gets kinda lonely in this life we’re dealing with right now. And it’s all made all the harder when there’s only one girl on the road with the rest of us.
Pete said he was gonna be in for the day so I took off. I figured I’d take a walk to one of the gates and see if there was any chance of getting through. Guess luck was on my side since the cops there were bribable. I had a day to wander and not in the CZ – life was looking up! Since we were somewhere in California I headed west and made for the beach – what a friggin’ waste. I couldn’t tell where the sand ended and the trash began, at least in the public areas. Oh, I could see clean sandy areas behind electrified fences patrolled by men in black armor, but I wasn’t even gonna try to get near that. It was getting late by then so I headed back, only I got lost and wound up near a lake. There was a party or something going on so I headed in to take a look, and that’s how I met the guys at a nomad barbecue.
The barbecue was great – real meat, real beer, and lotsa hot women (usually with their significant others, but lookin’ is for free). I didn’t have anything to add to the pot so I paid some money for a liquor run – fair’s fair. At some point Santiago – one of the hot women I mentioned – walked up and offered the group a job. The others weren’t interested but I jumped at the chance – I figured on making some money, some contacts, and the start of a reputation. What I forgot about was the cost involved in getting those things.
The job was a simple snatch and grab – a scientist had been extracted that the Aldecaldos wanted to liberate. I had a netrunner as backup but otherwise went in alone. It took a day to get there, and after a short swim to get to shore I started in. First was a bunch of caves to get through, but climbing and cramped conditions have never bothered me (at least as long as I could back the hell out). That took a little longer than I expected – there was a guard I wasn’t expecting to encounter so early. The caves led to the basement of the old fort the enemy was using as a base – a crumbling mass of old stones and rusted gates.
I didn’t make it to the scientist. I could hear him being tortured, but just couldn’t make myself move fast enough – thought of dying again kept surfacing, causing me to hesitate when I should have been acting. These thought have been with me for a while now, and I always thought they’d get someone killed – I’d always figured it would be one of my friends so I feel almost relieved that it was a stranger that died, even if that stranger was the man I’d been sent to rescue. I can still smell his charred flesh – and probably will for some time to come. The rest of the run is something of a blur – plus I shouldn’t be puttin’ it all down here anyway. I was able to accomplish my secondary goals, which saved whatever rep I might’ve gotten.
I was still in a daze when I ran into the guys at Mike’s Place – still trying to come to terms with listening to a man get tortured to death through my inaction. I think I may have given them the wrong impression of what I’d gone through, but I can clear that up later. Right now we have to go meet the money guy and start getting outfitted properly. I’m guessin’ it won’t be long before the Device is ready to go again, but I plan on making some ‘adjustments’ before we make the next jump. My guess is the others will have similar plans. I don’t know if I’m ready to leave just yet, it’s kinda nice to be a place with modern conveniences for a change.
That reminds me – as soon as we get some cash I gotta check out the movies; there’s gotta be some kick-ass sci-fi in this world. And sushi – I gotta get me some sushi.