1st September, 2177.

Weather: rainy.

Outfit: today I punk styled, because I was shopping for some bullet belts when the call came in. Misfits t-shirt, tartan mini, black tights and sensible boots, pony tail, no heavy guns. My e-bags were patterned to “lacrima is my drug,” and that cheerleader squad Nirvana Crush from the computer game I haven’t played, because their punk stylings matched my mood. I set my synthnails to black-and-skulls, that pattern has been a real winner since I downloaded it. I was out on my scooter so the assault rifle was with me, which turned out to be a very good idea. I think I need a better pistol – New Horizon is getting way nastier than I expected.

Feeling: Enervated [Pops taught me this word today!], but then excited. It was a good fight and I killed three guys. The dude in the stairs looked so cool as he fell down the well, and it’s been ages since I heard an assault rifle on full auto, the sound of the gun in the courtyard really got my heart kicking.

My counsellor at the institute told me that I should keep a diary to try and get a grip on my feelings and thoughts. At first I thought it was a stupid idea, and he was really creepy the way he sometimes touched my leg, so I didn’t want to listen to him. Maybe killing him on the way out made me think more about what he said though, because now I think it might be a good idea, so I’m going to give it a go. This is my first entry and I think it’s a pretty good one, though it’s a bit long. I hope they aren’t always this long! I don’t know how it will help me with my feelings and thoughts, since I don’t really have any, and I don’t know what the counsellor thought I would get out of it since he’s dead and he didn’t say anything sensible before I killed him, he just kept saying “Please no!” But I think he might have had a good idea, so I’ll try it.

Before I say what I did today, I should mention that things are getting a little bit hot around here. Pops had a ping out on my name, and we found out today that the contract on me has been sold on to Arasaka Industries. We don’t know why but Arasaka are deep corporate, they don’t mess around and they don’t waste time, and they have top flight mercenaries, so we need to get money together before they start to pay attention to us. That means we need real work, not this stupid Armoured Entourage gig. John was doing some dumb investigation of a cyberpsychotic down in the Indo quarter today in exchange for a free meal, but we’re gonna need better pay than that. We have to get serious. But there’s gotta be work available. Some biotech company on Deck 4 has declared a whole section of Deck to be industrial and is moving all the residents up to Deck 3, but they’re rioting, so there’s a lot of trouble down there, we can probably get work flatlining leaders. John doesn’t like that sort of work – he once told me they had this thing called democracy where he lived, and everyone got to have a say on how the govt did stuff. Can you imagine? That means Smelly Sally down on the garbage level might get to say what happens in the block. They certainly had some dumb ideas in America, no wonder they collapsed. Anyway he won’t like killing rioters, but it’s money, and we need a lot. If they’re doing bounties on heads then I could probably clear the debt if I set up a good nest and John collects heads. Just gotta convince him.

But it turned out that we don’t need to do high turnover whack jobs just yet, because a job came through. Pops knows this dodgy dude called Coyote who has got like the worst facial tattoo ever, who sometimes gets jobs through this fixer called Twitch (real paedo chic), and Twitch has scored a real win job: we have to flatline some cyberpsycho drug dealer, and some gang boss called Alt will pay 10,000 for it but better yet this drug dealer dude is sitting on a mountain of Ghostshock which is worth like fat wads, and Alt doesn’t care about loot, just wants this cyberpsycho flatlined for some old gangland slight. Twitch gets 20% of the 10k, but then we split the drugs evenly and Ghostshock is worth a lot if we can shift it (and this Coyote dude shifts drugs for a living, so like yeah), so we can maybe get most of our debt together in one easy hit. Pops loves whacking chromes, so it’s a buzz. We gotta meet this Alt guy first but the big problem is we need a hacker – everyone says that the cyberpscyho has gone to ground in the lower decks, and we’re gonna need a hacker to get through his defenses. Twitch knew a hacker we could deal with, but because of reasons there is a hit job on him so we need to get to him fast and cancel the hit.

So we had to rush. Coyote and Twitch took his car, me and John took the scooter, and we got to the hacker’s place pretty fast but a team were obviously already there – two cars parked in the lot, tinted windows, two obvious gangbangers in the yard, the whole place gone real silent. While Coyote and Twitch argued about tactics me and John walked up to the two dudes, doing our lover’s tiff act, and then hit them hard and fast. John took his down with one shot in the face but I was using my rippers, and I didn’t quite get my guy. Everything’s too fast now that they’ve taken my ‘ware, and he got away. He had a shotgun, he shot at me a few times and missed, then ran back to the doorway. He shot us both from there but it didn’t really hurt. I thought I should drop the pretty girl act so I called my scooter to me but for some reason it didn’t come, so I ran back to it to get my assault rifle. While I was taking it out I noticed there was this kind of glass walkway from one high-rise to another, that led straight into the level where our hacker was, and there were two heavily-armed dudes walking in there, obvious trouble. So while John pinned down shotgun dude, I let rip on the glass walkway – full magazine, suppression shot. That got their attention, though they were too far away to hurt, and they went into shooting mode, which means they weren’t going to get our hacker. But then my scooter went crazy, fired up and started spinning in circles. It hit me in the head but I ducked, and ran to John. This has gotta mean they’ve got a hacker ghosting them, which I told John, and then ran in. Shotgun dude – who was pretty persistent for a toerag – had done a runner inside, so I sprinted after and John followed, with that Coyote dude behind us.

We shouldn’t have crowded into the entry way of the apartments, because shotgun dude was waiting in an elevator – he tried to stick his arm out and take a shot at us, which could have been bad news, but he mistimed it and the elevator doors closed on his gun – mangled it and didn’t shut. We moved up for the kill but then all the lights went off, the doors clattered shut, and the lift doors slammed shut too (that shotgun dude is fast). The team’s hacker was working fast to shut us down, and our hacker was obviously doing nothing to stop this squad – did he even know they were coming. How good was this guy? Well, to find out we had to take the stairs (five flights! Of course pops complained about his knees), so we took them. It felt like ages but really it was pretty fast, but when we got near the top who should we see but shotgun dude, leaning over the banister and trying to shoot into the darkness his hacker had made. Rookie error! I dropped to a squat and squeezed off a few shots while the others ran past me, and I think I scored a couple of good belly hits, ’cause shotgun dude flipped over the railing and took the long dive. That was one persistent problem fixed. I mean really – if you wanna be serious in this business you need an assault rifle, not some kind of second rate blaster. Also, leaning over railings really isn’t the best move. Rookies! It was like poetry when he flopped over the railing and took that dive. What a swansong!

We hit the 5th floor and we could hear a whole lot of damage going down, gunshots and yells. It was just a short run down a corridor, then one corner and the battle was there. Of course I went round first (pops’s knees are crap, and that Coyote dude is wrestling with congestive heart failure, he’s so slow). There were three guys in some kind of bizarre fight – two white trash gang bangers and a guy in full body armour, one gang banger literally trying to wrestle with the armour dude. I guessed this was our hacker’s body guard, so I took down the nearest white trash with a shot to the knee. The other dude looked around at me and seemed pretty angry, so when John finally arrived (!!!) I told him to shoot the white trash dude. Of course he missed. Someone else inside a room off the corridor was also shooting at white trash dude, so he realized he was out of his depth here and decided to do a runner. This bodyguard guy he was fighting was weird – dressed in some serious combat dress but carrying the girliest pistol you’ve ever seen, and slow as a chump. I got to the end of the hall and blew both the runner’s legs off before the bodyguard had his silly little pistol up, and I’d tapped the dude twice in the head and had my rifle raised and pointed at the bodyguard before he had his pistol on me. Meanwhile John was dispensing the other dude, tap!tap! Then the lights went on and twitch was yelling in Coyote’s ear “Goliath cops! Goliath cops!” So we had to get out. I guess that means the Hacker figured out he was toast if he stayed, and did a runner. dThere was some girl in the room – nondescript Chinese, self-defense pistol, you know the drill – but she came out and Coyote told us we had our hacker so off we went. We ran straight to the smashed up glass corridor, called our vehicles to it, hopped on and flew away before the Goliath cops could reach the scene. Final damage: 4 guys we took down, we dragged some unconscious dude out with us and it turns out that the Chinese girl put a cap in another dude (head shot!) in the room, so all up not a good night for whoever these dudes were.

We stopped a little way away to have a chat with the dude we dragged out, and things got a bit messy here. John broke a few of the dude’s fingers and I cut off a few more, and then he got cooperative, he was speaking English – all these dudes are pasty white American weirdos – but he told John the name of the fixer who got them the job whacking our hacker, some guy called “Blue,” and he was obviously just a low-level grunt, so John and I were going to let him go, but Twitch tried to kill him. I stopped that (Twitch is real slow, I just stepped in and the gun was mine) but while we were talking about mercy and mortality, this Coyote dude pulled out some kind of insane cyber chainsaw and cut our prisoner from one end to the other. There was blood everywhere. Nasty. So then John pulled his gun on Coyote and pointed out to him that that kind of arbitrary slaughter isn’t very collegiate, and Twitch busted out this tiny little blaster, so I had to stick my rifle in Twitch’s face (and I have to say, waxing that paedo-looking dude would be justified on style grounds alone). So it was a classical Mexican stand off until Coyote agreed he’d been a little rash and promised us that Twitch wouldn’t cause anymore trouble, and then it was all roses until someone (Twitch?) told us that this chinese chick was not our hacker. Actually our Hacker was the dude in the full combat suit, apparently his name is Ghost but this girl was just some random he had in his room. So then me and John were like “who are you?” and she turned out to be a paparazzi, which is kind of disastrous right because we are on the run and she was surely filming this hit. So we had a chat, with my gun in her face, and she agreed to cancel uploading any film of our little raid in exchange for joining our hit and getting exclusive interviews with all the people we don’t kill straight up. Easy.

So our Hacker Ghost was in this full battle dress all along and we didn’t even need to run up those stairs. I guess paranoia has its uses.

From there we went to the Firefly bar – I swear I’m gonna get the Sarge, its owner, to smile at me one day – and we had a drink and a chat about what to do next. I think it was a pretty easy job – 5 dead, me with a few shotgun pellets, our hacker safe, and some paparazzi chick who seems to be a real ace with a pistol on our side. We can sell wetjob footage, everyone tells us that is worth a mint if you do it right, and this chick seems pretty professional. Maybe things are looking up.

From now we go to meet Alt, and then the wetwork starts. I’ve had a good day, it’s nice to be doing what I do best. I can smell freedom from here…

Drew out.

Footnote: what actually happened in the hacker’s room. So basically while we were fighting with the guys downstairs, the hacker ghost and another PC called Huang Lin (Lin) were trapped in the hacker’s tiny room, with some enormous cyber-enhanced arsehole smashing his way through the door. The hacker was off in cyberspace trying to work out what was going on, but the enemy’s hacker got to him and started frying his brain. Lin, seeing things going wrong but guessing that the raiders didn’t know she would be there, hid in the bathroom. A huge gangster musclehead burst in and went forward to kill the supine hacker. Lin saw her chance and took a called shot on his head from the bathroom. She was successful, and blew his brains out. So while we were fighting our way past shotgun dude and running up stairs, her and Ghost were able to take up defensive positions and take the fight to the two guys that Drew saw going through the glass walkway. Ghost’s ludicrously effective battle dress prevented him from suffering damage, but both of them were having real trouble actually hitting their two enemies. It was a stand off until Drew and Pops turned up with real weaponry. Then things went south fast for our white trash foes, who were all originally American …

Main lesson about cyberpunk: don’t take a knife to a gunfight. This is a one-hit-down system. Act first with extreme prejudice. And carry an assault rifle wherever possible.