Thursday, May 25, 2017

Solo: Verona - Part the Second

Part the 2nd


One time, a rather brave loon kept spray painting the phrase 'Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter' on the walls of Neon Quarter. When they caught him, and they did catch him, he grinned at the Red Coast officers and said: “I hope you don't mind, I'm just having a bit of a painting bug.” As far as Benvolio had heard he was still in the isolation cube for messing with the bars, casinos, and sin dens of the Neon. He sipped at a drink when a woman in a formal shirt and vest approached him.

“Got a call on the net for you, Sir. Says it's from an M.”

Benvolio: Thanks her a slides a few bits her way. He notes he's gone down from 800 bits to 790. At least the drinks were covered by the company credit line, he thought to himself. He turned the public terminal to him and pressed the green button. He maintains a neutral expression seeing Mercer: “Speak.”

Mercer: “No way to talk to a friend if you ask me.”

Benvolio: “We're not friends and it's been a little over an hour. What do you have?”

Mercer: “Easting over in Block Quarter. Capulet has promised extra firepower against the Hyena's rivals in exchange for them hitting back at the Montagues. Looks like the meeting was setup by Tybalt.”

Benvolio: “I take it they've been told not to brawl on the Heights?”

Mercer: “That's right. They probably hope to catch someone in Sushi or Neon- you guys get out sometime.”

Benvolio: Blinks and says: “Yeah. I'm going to type a storage unit you can type in the address and I'll take care of the rest.”

Mercer: “You're going to need a couple of guys.”

Benvolio: “Yeah.” He switches off and begins punching notes into datapad.

<Does an NPC meet with him? 50% Yes = 04% Exceptional Yes!>

Benvolio: As he finishes sending out the information he hears a voice near him. He looks his eyes flick upwards just a fraction to catch the eyes of the beautiful Rosaline of Capulet. Her auburn kept long, past her shoulders. She wears a silvery silk high collar shirt with pointed shoulder pads and a pair of dark pants. She smiles seeing Benvolio.

Rosaline: “Got a light?” She asks and inches a filtered cigarette towards him.

Benvolio: Pads his coat and fishes out a lighter for her cigarette. The scent is sickly sweet, like orchids or the cloves of a dying flower. It burns a little but he keeps his face passive. “'Lo, Rose. How are you?”

Rosaline: “Getting by, I guess. I saw you at the party last weekend. I... I thought about waving, but...” She quiets and then says: “How's Romeo doing?”

Benvolio: Shrugs and says: “He's been going off by himself I guess. A lot of rides on a hoverbike, a lot of drives to the coast. I think he's found someone new.”

Rosaline: “Well, good. I'm glad.” She runs a finger across the back of her neck. She worried her lip with her teeth that gave off the same kind of ivory glow like the neon of the Heights. It was eye catching. “You ever say anything to anyone about us?” She asked.

Benvolio: “No. I guess I was like you at the party, I thought better of it.” He said.

Rosaline: “Well good, not that it's good we're hiding anything. It's just that... it's good we stayed where we are at. The background.” She looked around before she inched her hand to take his.

Benvolio: Pauses for a moment, his eyes scan the room as well. He clears his throat and with a slowness he takes her hand into his. The two hold for a moment before he speaks: “I have to go and take care of somethings.”

Rosaline: “Anything I should know about?” She asks.

Benvolio: “Same answer as before- I think it's better to keep it quiet.” He unclasps his hand from hers and says: “I'll see you sometime.”

Rosaline: “You don't have to worry much more about your cousin, Benvolio.” She leaned in close, her lips brush against his ear as she notes: “That certain someone I suspect is my cousin.”

Benvolio: “I figured. But I still can't tell you where I'm going.”

Roslaine: “But you will see me sometime, yeah?”

Benvolio: Nods and says: “Yeah, I'll see ya.” He walks out into the night and tips the valet 5 bits to get his car. He feels his coat for the solid heft of the Falcon .45 tucked within. As he touches the gun with one hand he uses the other to dial into the datapad. When it clicks he speaks into it: “Abram. I need you to get a couple of guys and meet me in Sushi Quarter. We've got work to do. Offer 250 Bits per man. If Montague asks, tell him I'm authorizing it and he can talk to me about it. Okay?”

Abrams: His voice crackles alive as he speaks: “Sure Benvolio. What do I say over the Glownet for job description?”

Benvolio: “Muscle work.”


Tybalt's Hoverbike pulls on the curb of Block Quarter. The blocks are towers upon towers, spires that reach for the sky without majesty or flourish. Dull grey hives where the population lives, breathes, eats, fornicates, and dies. In such conditions the shiny dark overcoat and fresh looking skin of Tybalt sticks out. He flips open his datapad and reads off the address again. He passes through the bank of doors into the grand lobby of Orchid Overwatch.

<Does anyone accost him in the lobby? 50% Yes = 88%. No.>

The lobby has life milling around in the night, yet nobody turns their head or makes any comments at Tybalt.

Tybalt: As he walks he does not bother to hide his mix of anger and revulsion of the squalid conditions of the Orchid. He sees the elevator doors read OUT OF ORDER and heads for the stairs. “I'm coming soon enough,” He says and begins to ascend the stairs. <Might check to prevent being Winded while going up stairs. Test Might 3+ for a result of 3.> It takes some time, but he doesn't feel winded as he ascends.

<There is a 1-in-6 chance for trouble on the stiarwell. The result is? 2>

A few civilians mutter in the corners or shoot up. Nobody bothers to look at Tybalt.

He passes through the doors into the 9th floor. The hallways are hard linoleum floors with chalk colored bricks stuck together with thick layers of white, paste like filling. At even intervals there are lights- some working, some flickering, a few off. The condition is dim.

Tybalt: <Test Mind: 5+ Result is: 4> While there is a certain sense of danger around him, he doesn't quite know the direction, besides what's ahead. A pair of thick muscled, bald headed Sick Boyz lounge in the doorway across from his target's apartment. The way their eyes look over the door and then flick to him. His hackles are raised a little more.

<Is there someone trailing in him? 65% = 25% Yes>

Tybalt: Stops short of the pair. His eyes sweep over their bulging muscles and the pistols that are stuck into the waistline of their pants. The two Boyz he see are white skin, buzz shaved heads, and little other feature besides the veins that move through their heads. His head turns slightly as he hears the metallic click of a hammer.

Jonesy: “What're you doing here, Corp Meat?”

Tybalt: Half turns to see a tanned skin Juicer with a shotgun-pistol in his hand. The gun rests on his shoulder, the hammer cocked. Both ways now have an obstacle. The way ahead, two. The way behind one, that one just happen to have a hell of a gun in his hand. He says: “Just dropping to see a friend. Cassius in?”

Jonesy: “He's busy. You come back to see him later, yeah? When the sun's up and maybe you can bring something to pay for the company.”

Tybalt: “Pay?” Looks around says: “Seem like kings of the castle already.”

Jonesy: “You heard what I got to say. Alright. Split, you catch?”

Tybalt: <Tests Nimble 4+. Result is: 4> He quick draws his Katana and rushes Jonsey with a growl. <Test 3+ w/ +2 Bonus from Weapon & Bull Rush. 2 Attks with Skirmish for results of 3 and 6 – 4 points of damage. Natural 6 Rolled> The blade flicks out and catches Jonesy's side, biting deep and causing blood to spray behind him. The second slashes across his leg, causing the Juicer to fall forward, his gun clattering to the ground.

Jonesy: <Tests 5+ to Regen = 1> Jonesey continues to kneel, his fist careens out to catch Tybalt <5+ Test = 1> The punch is deflected with Tybalt's leg which knocks him prone to the floor.

Sick Boy #1: One of the Boyz's unlatches himself from his sentry post and draws a Sparrow 9mm from his waist band. He fires a round at Tybalt <5+ = 5 Hit! -1 Hit>. The round grazes Tybalt's shoulder. His adrenaline is pumping to really notice the attack.

Sick Boy #2: He also draws, firing wildly <5+ = 1> The rounds are wild. A light fixture shatters as the bullet strikes it, causing the world to become Dim <-1 to actions unless possessing Night Vision>

Surprise Round Results

Jonesy takes 4 points of damage and lingers at Death's Door.

Tybalt takes 1 point.

Round #1

Initiative Test: 4+ = 4 – Tybalt; Juicers


Jonsey: 5+; Hits: 5; S: Regenerate: Test 5+ to regenerate 1 hit point per round. Costs an action.

Sick Boys: 5+; Hits: 4; S: Regenerate: Test 5+ to regenerate 1 hit point per round. Costs an action.

Tybalt: Takes a step towards the Sick Boys. He clenches his fist and points his arm to the lower left of him <Test Nimble 4+ = 6> With a hiss a shuriken fires out and strikes Jonesy in the center of his cranium. His body shudders before it becomes still, blood pooling from the wound.

Tybalt: “You better start running.” <Activates Derma Shield. For 1d3 rounds (2 rounds) He gains 2 bonus Wounds.>

Sick Boy #1: Continues to fire at Tybalt <5+ -1 = 5>. It is perhaps fortunate that shield came up as a round strikes and causes a crackle of energy as the shield absorbs the blow.

Sick Boy #2: Begins to run down the hall. He fires behind him wildly <5+ - 1 = 1>. Sick Boy #1 is struck in the back by a bullet. He takes a point of damage and leans to the side from paint.

Notes: Tybalt takes 1 point of Damage (Current HP: 7)

-Sick Boy #1 takes a point of damage from being shot by his ally due to a wild shot in the darkness.

Round #2

Initiative Test: 4+ = 6 – Tybalt; Juicers

Tybalt: Grits his teeth and charges forward. He makes two slashes at Sick Boy #1 <3+ with a +2 Attak bonus = 7 & 5. With 2 damage each Sick Boy #1 is dispatched. The Katana hacks into his sternum and doesn't stop until he's two parts of a man. “Now you.” Lifts his arm and fires a Shuriken <-2 to Attack and requires a 4+ Test. Result is: 3.> The Shuriken hits one of the walls and misses.

Sick Boy #2 continues to run down the hallway. Before long he is gone and the hallway, besides a few murmurs behind closed doors, is quiet.

-Combat Ends-

Tybalt: Kicks the door into Cassius' apartment.

<Is Cassius inside the room? 2% Yes = 62%>

Tybalt: As the adrenaline wears off and the pain begins to settle, Tybalt finds his face turning an angry red. There was a full set of signal boosting and ICE equipment for a Hacker to really dig into a system. Yet, there is no hacker. Just a neon outline of a woman, some holographic pictures, and a set of Venetian blinds overlooking a nearby liquor store. Tybalt grunts and yanks down the neon sign. “Don't mind if I do.” He says and snatches a few items.

-Cassius' ICE unit, Cassius datapad, and Cassius save disks (x3).


The VIP lounge of the Club Venice barely keeps out the electronica waves of the Synth music. The drinks are cold- gin and lemonade flows freely between the Escalus cousins. On either side of a glum looking Paris sits the twins: Mercutio and Valentine. Their black, dreadlock hair was wild and was complimented like all of the Escalus' clan with black skin. They entertained many a lady- white, yellow, brown, and black. They were high fashion and giggled into their drinks.

Mercutio: “Paris, my cousin. For a fellow who is so favored in the eyes of our regal aunt, you might as well be the saddest man in the world. Wouldn't you agree Valentine? Melchior?”

Valentine: Despite having similar looks as Mercutio, Valentine did have his own points. He was quieter, he was taller, his voice was deeper. He shrugged and said: “Are you feeling alright, Paris?”

Paris: “I feel fine. Great. Grand.” He rises and walks to where Melchior leans, turning to lean next to the Ghost. “You want to tell them what weighs on my heart, Melchior?”

Melchior: The only white face in the group. His eyes are hidden by his black wire frame glasses. He didn't go further into detail, save for a saying: “Paris is sick in his heart. It only beats for one woman.”

Mercutio: Spends a moment to nibble on a woman laughs and says: “Well, perfect. More for me. Paris, the youngest of Escalus, look how you already dream of one woman.”

Paris: “I lack your boldness, Mercutio. That is why Aunt Colette shall favor you when she wishes to retire.”

Mercutio: “Favor me? A laugh.” He laughs before slapping the woman's thigh only to receive a playful pop. He tilts his head to signal space to move and when offered he stands and says: “I suspect Colette shall entrust all three of us, her nephews, to run things. She has a bold man to do bold things, a cold man to do cold things-” His head leans back towards Valentine and then forward: “And a dreaming man to dream. You get to dream, your best asset, cousin.”

Melchior: Checks his datapad. He looks up and says: “Pardon me, gentlemen. I'm sure the security, food, and drink are adequate?”

Mercutio: “Of course, Melchior. We are well provided here and I'm sure we can holler from the balcony should we need you to run back up.”

Downstairs from the VIP lounge the room's music had changed from the upswing beats of Synthwave for the lucid ambiance of Dreamwave. The tempo had mellowed and the eyelids of the drunks got heavier, just in time for the bouncers to move them and pick at their wallets like great carrion. Melchior moved to the corner booth where a youngish, wheat haired, white man sat nursing a drink. He raises a glass and speaks.

Peter of Capulet: “Melchior, welcome. Brown Pelican?” He shakes the peach colored drink at him.

Melchior: “Isn't that a non-alcoholic drink?” He asks with a raised brow.

Peter: “So it is, Melchior. You think everyone should go through life liquored up?”

Melchior: “Fair point. Fairer still, I'd like to know what you've got for me.”

Peter: Looks around and fishes out a datastick. Plugging it into his datapad it displays the images in slow, steady succession. The meeting on the balcony, the exchange of kisses. The nights of her dressed and seeing the bike vanish just beyond the walls. Melchior frowned as he watched it play out.

Melchior: “Capulet and Montague together-”

Peter: “The direct heirs, may I add. With all of that stock ownership at stake, you'd think both sides would appreciate and alliance against the Prince.”

Melchior: “No, they'd never agree on how to manage the power. Two men with too much ego. Even if they did know how to manage, Escalus would have something done about this.”

Peter: “Ah... but they're just kids. Cannot kids love?”

Melchior: “Not when it stock options and control are at stake. Save that line for the e-books our masters sell.” He orders his own drink, a screwdriver. “May I have a copy of these pictures?”

Peter: “Sure. Fifty a picture?”

Melchior: Opens his mouth and shakes his head: “Sure.” Using his generous credit line he pays 600 bits to Peter. “How's Tybalt doing nowadays?”

Peter: “Meaner than ever since that party. He keeps talking of how he hates Montague over having one's mind inserted into something foul- like a toaster or an artificially controlled toilet. His only kindness might be that he wants to kill Romeo. Not turn him into something.”

Melchior: “Yeah, I guess so.” He raises a glass and clinks it against Peter's. After his drink sighs and looks back up at the VIP lounge with its tinted windows. He thinks about going back up, instead, he shakes his head and orders another round.

White Star: Aquanauts and Other Strangeness

Precis: This one is all about underwater material for White Star.

Conspectus: Whether it's the Regime or the Rebellion, Ocean Worlds are a vital asset to either side. It isn't just about contacting another friendly Xeno race to add to galaxy. Ocean planets offer another food source, rarer minerals, and powerful artifacts that Star Knights might have hidden within the deep, hidden places of the planet.

Swimming & Breathing

Swimming is accomplished via an Athletic's or Strength check. The White Star Companion offers a nifty system for how to do skill checks or, if the roll-under Attribute check is your thin, a character typically uses Strength to keep themselves steady in blue world. Alien brutes or races that are aquatic in nature should either have a bonus or be able to stabilize for free.

Hold Breath: A character can hold their breath in two ways. If they were able to take a breath before plunging into the water they can hold breath for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution score. If they plunged suddenly under the waves without taking a breath they get only half of their Constitution score in rounds (rounded-up if you're nice, round down if you're a bit more stringent).

At the point where you have reached the max rounds without finding an air pocket, breathing apparatus, friendly Xeno to take you to a cave, you can suffer the following:

Instant Damage: You take 1d6 every round until you reach 0 HP. At 0 you have drowned.

Save or Die!: You must make a Saving Throw every round until you find air or until you fail. Every round the Saving Throw increases by 1 or 2 points in difficulty. On a failure, the character is slain due to drowning.

Note: If using the Alien Brute class, a Player might be able to petition that their character is a native and is either semi-aquatic or aquatic. Semi-aquatic doubles the Constitution score for the purposes of holding breath while Aquatic characters have gills that allow them to breath underwater. The trade-off might be that you suffer a -1 to your d20 rolls on the surface unless you spend an hour in water once per day (desert planet visitation is ill-advised).

Standard Aqua-Enviro Suit

Light Armor (-2 / +2) - This version of Light Armor consists of a breathing mask and synthetic skin weave. Characters can attempt to do a roll-off grapple check (Melee attacks vs. Melee attack) to rip the mask away form a character's face. This suit has a limited range cannot go far down without suffering crush depth.

Medium Armor (-4 / +4) - This is a Standard Aqua-Enviro Suit which includes duel tanks, breathing helmet, and heads up display to operate in shallow to mid-depth range. AE Suits include a radio comm built into the helmet for limited communication with divers or support craft.

Heavy Armor (-6 / +6) - Also known as a Deepwater Suit. This suit uses a fluorocarbon compound to allow the players to operate at Abyssal Depths without compression. This suit is cumbersome and inflicts a -1 penalty on all actions outside of the water. While the lungs are immersed in compound, the character cannot speak. Instead, a keyboard and heads-up display are used to convey information.

Speargun: Dmg: 1d6+1; Range: Near; RoF: 1 - Notes: Standard air-compressed spear launcher. Used for spear fishing and self-defense against fauna. Fires once per round.

Laser Rifle (Blue-Green Spectrum): Dmg: 2d6; Range: Far; RoF: 1 - Notes: This modified laser rifle is designed to operate in oceanic conditions. The blue-green spectrum does not operate well in air conditions (-1 to attack unless the laser has a spectrum tuner for an extra 100 credits). Blue-Green is a low frequency beam to keep bubbles from being heavily stirred. RoF is reduced to 1.

Laser Pistol (Blue-Green Spectrum): Dmg: 1d6+2; Range: Far; RoF: 1 - Notes: Like it's counterpart, this laser pistol fires a low intensity laser in the blue-green spectrum (50 extra credits includes a spectrum tuner to allow the laser to operate effectively out of water). The low intensity reduces laser's RoF to 1 per round - but it does cut down on the bubbles.

The following weapons do not suffer -2 penalty for being used underwater: Mono-dagger, Knife, Spear.

Mono-Spear: Dmg: 1d6+1; S: Reach - Can strike targets further than melee. Character's can set their spear to attack an advancing opponent, stopping their advance from getting close. - This is a new piece of equipment that combines monomolecular technology with a spear.

Aquatnauts and Vehicles


-This is a sub-class of the Pilot and uses the same XP, Hit Bonus, and Hit Die matrix as a Pilot. A couple of changes are as follows.

Skill (Swimmer): All Aquanauts begin play with a proficiency in Swimming. This is either using the Skill system from White Star Companion or as a +2 to Strength Score if using a roll-under attribute check.

Rudder Jock: An Aquanaut gains +2 Initiative in aquatic combat.

Run Silently, Deadly Boat: Every round an Aquanaut can apply a +1 to one of the statistics of their submarine. This includes: +1 AC, +1 Attack, +1 Movement. This bonus can be moved around each round, but remains in place until the next round and changes must be declared by the player at the start of the new run.

Jury-Rig - Same as Pilot's Jury Rig, just in this case applied to a Submarine. Aquanaut is advised to have a rebreather or light armor on standby if their submarine is about to explode.

Manta Ray Class Submarine
Scout Class Submarine

AC: 3 [16]
HP: 19
Movement: Fast
Targeting: +2

Weapon: Beam Shot: Dmg: 2d6 (Vehicle) & 4d6 (Organism); R: Far; S: Can be used to cut through inorganic material, such as rocks. Can be modified and focused for drilling purposes.

Notes: The Remora is a scout and drilling unit that sits 1 to 2 aquanauts. This submarine can also be fitted with two torpedoes to deliver a deadly payload to larger vessels.

Mana Ray
Attack & Transport Vessel

AC: 5 [14]
HP: 75
Movement: Medium
Targeting: +0

Weapons: Beam Shot (Heavy): Dmg: 4d6; R: Far / Torpedoes (x6 - x12): Dmg: 8d6; R: Far; S: Deals 8d6 to main target and 4d6 to targets in the nearby area. Divers are warned not to be near the explosion site.

Notes: The Manta Ray is generally the standard in military, research, and transportation submarines. Research & Heavy Transport with eschew torpedo complement to include scientific equipment, storage, or extra space for divers. Meanwhile, military craft might gain an extra beam shot (increasing RoF for 1 to 2) or a full 12 stock in torpedoes to use in combat.

Verona Heights: Part the First

I found my creative juices stalled over writing more fantasy stuff, or at least writing more fantasy stuff using a module like Caves of Chaos. Maybe I'll get back to it (maybe I'll finish something). For now - here's this.

Verona Heights

 “In fair Verona, where we lay our scene.”

Part the First


Dark haired, shaggy, pale white, and leaning against a lamp post. Benvolio of Montague looks out from the quaint cobbled streets and synthetic-stone buildings of Verona Heights, Corp Quarter to the distant sinful reds, sky blues, and glorious golds of Neon Quarter. The only Neon one fines here is the Pink Cat that grins from store windows or the ivory neon glow of the Verona E-Publishing. That book was deadly irony- when was the last time anyone read anything? It was virtual reality on download. The deadly came from the owners and their willingness to kill. That ivory glow, it might as well have been a skull for all he cared.

Benvolio unstuck himself from the post and entered 'Mercer's'. That was his contact and apothecary in the Heights. The interior was an interesting mix of store and dispensary. The center shelves included snacks and paraphernalia to make one's using habits easier. The far wall on the left was a line of dispensers that catered to any pleasure- it could release liquids to be drank or shot into veins, it released powders to snort or mix, it dropped plant parts to be smoked or chewed on. At the far end of the store facing Benvolio was a thick figured, short haired male who still wore spectacles.

Mercer: Mercer looked up from his counter. He was nonplussed by Benvolio's eyes, which included one brown, normal eye and another eye that glowed turquoise with a black pupil. He didn't sweat the augmentation and said: “Hey, what's the word, Benvolio?”

Benvolio: “You got what you owe me, Doc?” He drummed his fingers on the table.

Mercer: “I'm short, Montague.” He looked up and met the hard stare. He began to sweat a little: “Give me a little more time to come up with the bits. I'll pay you double.”

Benvolio: “You know the policy.” He leaned forward and said: “No credit to guys who miss out once. You don't remember two months ago?”

Mercer: “I made up for it, didn't I?”

Benvolio: Shakes his head and says: “Doesn't matter. A fellow comes with a light envelope and a story should have learned to stay out of the borrowing business. What do you have for me?” <Test Person 5+ with Advantage due to station and situation. Result is: 6>.

Mercer: “Look, I don't have the money to spare. How about we make a trade? I know some things that might interest you.”

Benvolio: Runs his tongue over his teeth and thinks. He hadn't heard that line about information from the apothecary. Part of him burns that the apothecary hasn't tried to offer something fair to trade – like chems. He also feels in his right to slap the Doc around or demand a free augmentation. But he relents and asks: “What do you know?”

Mercer: “I'm off to hook for a payment?”

Benvolio: “Give me a sample. If I like what I'll hear maybe, maybe I'll cut you a break and knock off your debt. Right now all I hear is a story.”

Mercer: Leans back and smiles: “It is no secret that the lads of Montague were seen at the Capulet Manor, despite the recent trouble that your two families are engaged in. Wasn't that you and Tybalt who dueled on those streets-”

Benvolio: “I don't want to hear ancient history, storyteller.”

Mercer: “Okay! Okay... you don't deny that you were are not at that party?”

<Benvolio tries to hide his face. He tests Person 5+ = 6. Success!>

Mercer: “Well, I heard you guys were there. Anyone. Not only did Tybalt see you, he also says that you and the Montague's heir, Romeo, shares a kiss with Capulet's heir, Juliet. As the enforcer of the family he swears vengeance and was only stopped by Capulet reminding him of Escalus' ban on the fighting.”

Benvolio: Shrugs and says: “That's it?”

Mercer: Raises a brow and says: “As to my debt-”

Benvolio: “All I hear is stuff I already knew. Tybalt has wanted every Montague dead since Romeo's father allowed the Reapers to blow up his car. It neither helps, nor hurts me and it doesn't pay me either.”

Mercer: “Funny you should say that, Benvolio- the Reaper part. That's what I want to tell you about... in exchange for that debt.” Mercer's smile returns as he looks over the Montague enforcer.

<Does Benvolio get mad? 35% chance = 84% No>

Benvolio: Pulls his datapad from his pocket and makes a few taps. He reduces Mercer's debt from 2500 to 2,125 bits. He shows Mercer and waits for the apothecary to make the necessary deductions on his own pad. He continues to look the apothecary over while drumming his fingers on the countertop.

Mercer: “Tybalt has hired a pack of Hyena Grungers to go after you from the outset. If you give me an hour I'll text you their location.”

Benvolio: “When do they plan to hit?”

Mercer: “Sometime soon. Not like tonight or anything, but in the next night or so they plan to hit. Probably get Romeo while he's out in the open.”

Benvolio: “Well then, I'd appreciate that information when you get it. As soon as possible.”

Mercer: “I could step it up. It might require a little bit...” Mercer's fingers instinctively rub together as he speaks.

<Does Benvolio pay in bits? 35% = 72%. No>

Benvolio: “Tell you what. I'll reduce your debt some more so you can use that extra money to spread around. See if you are being legit or just trying to pocket some change.” <Test Person 5+ = 2. Failure>

Mercer: Shrugs and says: “I'll see what I can do. At least, I don't know, maybe throw an extra 100 bits? Help grease the wheels a little.”

Benvolio: Slides the bits over to Mercer. As Mercer's hands touch the silver pieces, he finds his hand caught in Benvolio's grips. Benvolio leans forward and says: “You better be quick and I better not find out you screwed me out of 100 bits.”

Mercer: “Yeah, sure thing Benvolio.” He is able to withdraw his hand and rub his wrist as he watches Benvolio turn and leave. “Take care out there, Montague.”


In Verona Heights, built and founded by Verona E-publishing, there were only three major stakeholders in the company. The company employed hundreds of interactive fiction and entertainment writers and coders, very few owned only a piece of the action. The big three that didn't write the code, so much as bankroll all of the rest, included a man named Montague, a man named Capulet, and a woman named Colette Escalus – the so-called Prince of Verona.

Unlike her white counterparts, Escalus was dark skin with shoulder length black hair that was either kept straight or occasionally rolled in a hair wrap. Her hair was kept straight and long in this case. Her eyes a deep green, like jade when it was refined into gemstones rather than cut raw from the earth. She stood next to her nephew, Paris.

Paris was dark skinned with short, curly dark hair and a thin layer of stubble on his chin. He leaned against a desk in his navy blue jacket and slacks while she wore her burgundy shirt and black slacks. The two were not alone, Melchior sat on the couch- he was white, brown haired, and dressed in light grey. His coat was over on the other chair as he listened in on his boss and her nephew.

Escalus: “You look so dire, Paris. What you want to tell Aunty Colette?” She asks and tilts her head.

Paris: “To think, I ask Capulet about the hand of his daughter, Juliet. All I got is not a hand of assurance and friendship, but words about how I rush to quick and she's too young. She's prime and I know no other creature fairer than Juliet.”

Escalus: Shrugs and says: “Her father is wise to see the bigger picture.” She sips her drink and shakes her head at his scornful stare. “Don't be angry at me, Paris. You've a dreamy look in your eyes and no sense in your head. If you were the marry, what would that do for the rest of us? Montague and Capulet's feud are kept in check because they believe I am neutral and above a fray.”

Paris: “But what she and I have transcend all of that. What happens between Montague and I, that is on me and I shall bare it.”

Escalus: Shakes her head and continues: “And what? I sit idly by while he and his attack you? I'd be looked on as weak who couldn't protect her own. I'd have to strike at him. In fact, if I accepted such a marriage, then I might as well as make the first move- right Melchior?”

Melchior: He looks up from a dreamy state of his own making and waves off the question: “This one isn't really my specialty.”

Escalus: “You just don't want to get in the middle of a family argument.” She laughs and turns to Paris. She sees his dire look and says: “Why don't you and Melchior go to Neon Quarter? Have a few drinks? You get yourself a nice woman to spend time with. Take your mind off of Juliet and marriage.” She waves her finger at Paris: “Capulet is right. You're too young to marry in this day and age.”

Paris: Gets up and says: “That's the problem. We live a world where you might as well keep up the distractions. To young to get married, to young to settle down, to young to have children. Might as well do anything else but be happy.” He turns and walks out of the room. Ignoring the frown that Escalus gives him or the raised brow look that Melchior offers.

Melchior: Sees Escalus wave him over and stands to approach her. He makes sure to snatch his coat from where he left it on the chair as he approaches. “Yes Prince?”

Escalus: “Stay with him. Make sure he keeps out of trouble. And make sure he goes to Neon Quarter or in another part of Corp Quarter. I don't want Capulets getting mad about Paris coming around or Montagues getting any ideas. You have my permission to subdue him if he tries anything.”

Melchior: “What about Mercutio and Valentine? They've been hanging around with Montagues. Maybe Pairs should get in good with the Capulets.”

Escalus: “You're talking crazy, but I don't have time to explain why. Just stick with Paris, alright?”

Melchior: “Yes Prince.” He takes off for the elevators after Paris. His stride is quick, but not quite running.


The training room within the Capulet Compound was cobalt walls and black, carpeted floors with a thick texture that cushioned the feet. Tybalt stood with short black hair, a light tan to his skin, and a goatee fit for cats or a devil- two that were viewed to go together. Just like that hellish imp of a kitty cat mascot that hung out in the shops, glowing it's sinful neon colors. He wasn't alone in the room. Sampson and Gregory sat against the wall in tracksuits, brown hair, and white skin. They marveled as Tybalt's silver arms gripped the diamond cut Katana as he circled the practice droid.

Round 1

Note: Tybalt Tests Nimble <4+> for a result of 1 (Failure)

Hits: 3 / Attack: 5+ / Stun Gun: 1 Dmg; Non-Lethal

Android: Fires a bolt at Tybalt <Result: 2>. The light blue beam fires past the rushing Cyberblade without even grazing him.

Tybalt: Closes in and makes two slashes at the Android <Test Brawn: 3+ w/ +1 bonus = 3 & 6 for 4 points>. Without breaking a sweat as he dodges the stun beam with ease he draws the Katana up for a slash and down again, rending the android in twain. He stands without a sweat, a slight pause before breathing normally again. His Katana spun in his hand andslid back into his sheath.

Combat Notes:

Android is slain in pair of strikes; a smoking ruin.


Tybalt: “Child's play. I shall really take it in with joy when Romeo is looking like this.” He turns on his heel and approaches Sampson and Gregory.

Gregory, the Doc: Runs a hand through his beard as he sees Tybalt. He reaches for the towel near him and tosses it to his boss. “You've been stressed out as late since that party, Tybalt. What's got you so riled?”

Tybalt: “My own Uncle upbraids me! He practically slaps me in the face both with his words, and he truly slaps me with his hand tells me to put up with a Montague at our party.”

Sampson: “I wouldn't think he'd be any kind of sport to you, Prince of Cats. Benvolio! That's a worthy kill.”

Tybalt: “Benvolio didn't kiss my cousin.” Tybalt puts a hand on his chest as he spats out: “Montague's heir...” He shakes his head and continues: “My Uncle to tolerate such insults, disgusting.”

Gregory: “Let it drift, Tybalt. Your Uncle knows the Prince will not tolerate anymore brawling in the streets.”

Tybalt: “What issues from your mouth, love for the Montague? Perhaps you'd like to run down and give the gate codes to them too?”

Sampson: “Come on, Tybalt. It's not like tha-” Puts a hand up, he tries to pacify the situation.

Tybalt: Grits his teeth and points: “The hell it is! All I hear is love for fiends, knaves, and curs. Each I like and shall smote, one way or another.”

Sampson: Pauses and grabs his datapad from his coat. His face is briefly lit by the bright green screen. “V's on the Glownet. He'd like to have words with you.”

Tybalt: “Alright. If I'm not out in twenty minutes send a text, yeah?”

Sampson: “Sure thing.”

There were headjacks to manipulate the world and then was the commercial dream-chip that immersed one in the glow. The chip could fit on the index of a finger and was an easy surgery to attached somewhere in the head: one cable into the brain, two attached to the eyes. 

The standard practice of using it was, as follows: One sat down, one leaned back, one too a breath, perhaps a sip of water. If it was an extended trip, one tried to use a catheter to deal with bodily waste in the glow. At some point the walls of the world shuddered and creaked. Cracks in reality formed split away. One was no longer sitting nor thinking about their guts churning. One stood on the black-and-white tiles of a chessboard in space. The distant void before them, broken up only by floating reds of space dust, or the greens of a yawning nebula. The stars, white, pale, and cold looking floated in the sea of night. Surrounding the floating tile were a series of stone columns. All of this artificial construction was but a lobby of the Glow.

Valentine sat on a grey and black garden egg chair with a table in front of him. A bottle of wine resting on the marble table with an empty chair across from him. He was dark skin, with shaved black hair in a Caesar cut. A cigar, a construct like everything in the glow rolled between his fingers.

Valentine: “Been awhile since he said 'hi' to each other. I of course saw you at the party.”

Tybalt: Looked the same, even in the virtual world. He might have changed his avatar to suit him, if he bothered to deal with a decker. For now, he was fine with looking like his same bad self. He rested a hand on the back of the egg chair as he looked over Valentine: “I saw you too. I also saw who you were with.”

Valentine: Shrugged and said: “That was Mercutio's idea. What was I suppose to do? 'Nah, cousin. My contact might throw a mad fit all over us.'”

Tybalt: Rolls his eyes and says: “You know I'd never hurt you, I'd have tore the other two to pieces.” He sighs and says: “You got a line on those Hyenas yet?”

Valentine: “I do.” He cleared his throat-

Tybalt: “There a problem?”

Valentine: “I used my man Cassius as the go-between the me and the Hyenas. Help keep anything from getting back to me or us. I'm hearing things- like how Cassius owed a guy who owed a guy and talk about how the Montagues would be hit. I haven't confronted Cassius about it yet.”

Tybalt: Grits his teeth and clenches his fist. He rubs the back of his neck and says: “Where is that rat hiding at?”

Valentine: “Two places, I suspect. He's a Hacker- that's how I contacted him and that's how he contacted the Hyenas. Just give me some time. I'll get you an address for his physical body.”

Tybalt: “Yeah...” Out of the corner of his eye he could see several stars had changed to form a constellation. Not of a vague shapes or figures, but full words. The words became a statement from the outside.


Tybalt: “Let me know when you hear something. I don't want trouble caused around here that's traced to us. Also, let me know if your aunt hears something.” He turned away. As he stepped across the board he raised his hand and waved over his shoulder. A path formed with each step towards the void and slowly the world he was use to, the waking world, rebuilt itself.