Work Header


Chapter Text

    Hanamura. The last place on earth where cherry blossoms bloomed naturally. A walled in community run by the Shimada Clan, a megacorp who made their fortune in the private military business. If you believed the rumors floating around, a hefty portion of that fortune was also in illegal weapons and experimental chems, but it was never wise to trust a rumor. Not in Hanamura, where they could and would cost you your head.

    The whole city was built around the Shimada Clan HQ - referred to as the Shimada Castle for purely aesthetic reasons. The area around the castle was walled off, surrounded by real honest-to-god cherry blossom trees, the lush gardens visible through the gates. A stark contrast to the heavily armed guards patrolling the area. From the walls outwards the city grew progressively less pretty and more violent. The pink and white glow of the castle only extended so far.

    Jesse McCree found himself on the very edge of that glow, reviewing the plan with his crew one last time before they set out to do an incredibly stupid thing. Hana's latest drone model had to be installed on the top floor in a previously prepared vent drop point, where it would likely provide a fortune's worth of blackmail data for months to come. Should they come across a data vault on the fourth floor, there might be a schedule for illegal weapons deliveries that would prove incredibly valuable if retrieved. Once they found a way over the wall, they would be entering through a discreet delivery door somewhere on the south side. McCree would be taking a different route to minimze the amount of time he had to spend in the building with a metal box floating next to him. Not much info on the inner layout. But that was part of what the surveillance drone was for.

    "Any questions?"

    The group shook their heads in unison, exchanging glances of confirmation with one another. If Hana's intel was up to date, they'd face minimal resistance if they acted quickly and quietly. The leader of the group, an elf adept by the name of Storm, nodded in approval as she scanned her audience. Tonight she was running with a motley crew of desperate runners who were in enough of a pinch to do just about any job dropped in front of them. Diesel, a troll sniper built like a tank, would be watching the exits and keep in touch via commlink. Alice and Z3R0 - resident cat shaman and hotshot decker respectively - were headed to the fourth floor for the data vault. Storm would be helping McCree place the drone.

    McCree was probably the most out of place. He was considered a weapons expert with infiltration and security experience, ex-Deadlock crew, mostly a lone hire these days. At 37 years old he generally had the most experience on any given team - he'd been running the shadows since his late teens. Storm had chosen him for his experience in the private security business, hoping he would have some insight on what kind of resistance to expect. He expected medium to heavy security - private, not corporate - with Knight Errant on call for when the alarms were tripped. His suggestions to cut the power to the alarms before they started the run were shot down in favor of "just don't get caught". He didn't have very high hopes for this team in all honesty. Generally he didn't run with strangers, but he wasn't eating this week if he didn't run with somebody soon.

    Their way over the wall presented itself in the form of a nearby rooftop. They shimmied up the fire escape and balanced themselves carefully on the slanted edge of the wall. Diesel set up on one of the decorative towers, scanned the courtyard, and gave the thumbs up for the rest of the crew to haul over. Alice and Z3R0 went left towards the delivery door. Storm and McCree went right towards the dojo, the drone hovering low and quiet behind them.

    The building was quieter than McCree expected. It put him on edge - there should have been guards by the doorway, one at each hallway entrance in the back, even more by the open archway to the balcony. Instead, there was an empty room with a shrine at the far end and no place to hide. "Move slow." He mouthed to his companion. Storm nodded in agreement and dropped into a crouch. McCree didn't like how easy it had been to cross the room. Something wasn't quite right. A wet thwack confirmed his fear. Storm was staring at him slack-jawed and wide-eyed. She tried to say something, but the arrow sticking through her throat caught her words and turned them into a bloody cough. She collapsed. McCree followed the angle of the arrow to an archer in the rafters, another arrow already nocked and fixed on him.

    "Well hell." He muttered before breaking into a blind sprint. "Diesel, extraction, right now. Storm's down."
    "What? How?"
    "Security ain't what I expected - get the others out." Hooked a right to god knows where.
    "What about you?"
    "My fault, my problem." A left, up a short staircase.
    "Don't be stupid, I'm patching Hana in to find you an exit."
    "Focus on the others. I'll be fine." Shouting in Japanese, too quick to catch but getting closer.
    "Alice and Z3R0 aren't too deep yet. I have time."
    "Get them out first dammit, I'll be fine!"

    An elevator - he dug his metal fingers into the crack as hard as he could and forced it open. Wrapping a cyberware hand around the cable, McCree started to rappel down the shaft to what he hoped would be freedom. The drone was long gone, outrun in the chase. All he could do was hope it didn't lead back to Hana somehow.

    "Jesse? You okay?" Now there was a comforting, friendly voice.
    "Howdy, Hana. Been better."
    "Yeah, I bet. Is the drone anywhere near you? I'm detonating it."
    "Nope, lost it a few turns back." McCree grunted, slipping slightly. Sparks from the metal cable scraping against his metal arm flickered hot against his cheek. "Hope you set one of them damn bastards on fire with it."
    "Here's hoping."
    Somewhere far above, a crackling of electricity and the sharp grenade-like sound of the drone exploding echoed down to him. That would draw their attention away for a bit.
    "Okay, your decker buddy patched me into the system, let's see if I can get an area map." A few moments of silence. "Boom, here we go. Okay, next floor down from where you are, peek out and tell me what you see."
    "Alrighty. Hang tight, I'm almost there."

    Hanzo Shimada stared at the cold food in front of him. A combination of guilt and pride kept him from eating the peace offering his father had "so graciously" left him. He shifted his weight in a vain attempt at comfort. There was a soft cot behind him, but it was the same problem he had with the food. In a cell across the hall, his brother sat on a ratty blanket with a musty pillow, picking at some sludge that was supposed to be a soy-based porridge.

    Hanzo wanted to ease his brother's suffering as much as he wanted to punch him square in the mouth. It was his fault this whole situation was happening anyway. If he had just accepted Dragon's gift instead of mangling his body with all that scrap metal-

    "Musing over my failings again, brother?" Genji glanced up from his food. Heavy bags under his eyes and the strain of a dry throat betrayed his attempt to sound strong.
    "I still do not understand your decision." Hanzo said flatly.
    "You do not have to. I am at peace with what I've done. That is all that matters."
    "You idiot!" Hanzo struggled to keep his voice below a shout. "That is not all that matters. What matters is that your behavior has gotten us both exiled from the family."
    "So? We will start over."
    "No. There is no 'we' anymore. There was me, there was Genji, and then there is you - something altogether...different." He wrinkled his nose in disgust.
    "You keep saying that." Genji sighed, letting his spoon fall to the tray with a hollow clatter. "I am still Genji. Some metal limbs and reflex rigs do not erase who I am."
    "I won't even grace you with a response to that."
    "And yet you continue to speak."

    Screeching metal and a string of profanity silenced the argument. The brothers exchanged confused looks. They could hear a man talking now - though it was in english and fairly distant. Hanzo felt something stirring within him, something he had come to recognize as Dragon's power. His tattoo glowed and shimmered.


    Bracing himself against the wall with one leg and against the thin ledge in front of the door with the other, McCree pried open the next door he came to. He must've dropped a good three or four before this - this was a concrete floored basement by the looks of it. On the wall outside of the elevator a plaque read "Holding Site".

    "Well ain't that handy."
    "Holding Site mean anything to you?"
    "Uh...yup! Here we go - typical blacksite b.s., but looks like there's a maintenance hatch in a janitor's closet down here. Looks like it used to be a basement and they just shoved a bunch of cells in there."
    "Where's the hatch lead?"
    "Mmm. Not sure. But anywhere is probably better than a blacksite basement, right?"

    McCree sighed and started picking his way through the maze of cells and hallways. He could think of several worse places this hatch might dump him, but he didn't feel like it was worth saying that to Hana. She would just tell him to stop being such a downer.

    "Hey. Hey!" McCree froze. "You there, cowboy."
    "Ah hell, this ain't my night." He muttered. Up ahead he could see two faces pressed to the bars of two cells across from each other. "Howdy. Don't suppose y'all'll let me just pass on through without any shootin'."
    "We are unarmed." One of the men, a heavily cybered elf, held his hands up as McCree approached. He spoke English fairly well, though he had a heavy Japanese accent. "Who are you?"
    "A stranger passing through." He said flatly.
    "To where? You are lost, cowboy." The other elf snorted. He was well-built and wore a similar outfit to the archers upstairs. A detailed tattoo of a dragon spiraled down his arm.
    "Not as lost as you'd think. Now can I help you fine men or can I get goin', 'cause I'm on a bit of a tight schedule right now."
    "Let us out of these cells. We will show you the way out."
    "How do y'all know the way out?" McCree was wary, but he knew he didn't have many options. "Why are you two down here anyway?"
    "Genji Shimada. This is my brother, Hanzo. Why we are here is unimportant."
    "Shimada? You two are part of the family who owns this hellhole?"
    "The head's sons." Hanzo crossed his arms impatiently. "Are you going to free us or not, cowboy? You are on a tight schedule, are you not?"
    "Hold up a minute - why would I let you two go? Y'all'd kill me or sell me out just as quick as anything."
    "We hold no love for our father." Genji's tone was sharp as he flicked the bars of his cell impatiently. "We would just as soon see his empire crumble."
    Hanzo said nothing. He had fixed his brother with a hard stare - one that McCree didn't miss. A tense silence built between them, which McCree broke by clearing his throat awkwardly.
    "Look, I get the feelin' there's some family issues here and I don't want any part of it. Y'all promise to get me out of here and I'll spring you. Then we part ways and you never tell anyone about me for the rest of your days."
    "Deal." Hanzo extended his hand for McCree to shake. Genji offered the same.
    "Alrighty, stand back then."

    The cell locks were simple maglocks. Clearly nobody expected anyone to come down here with the intent of letting anyone out. The bizarre truth about many corporate blacksites was that they were so secret, corps didn't bother pouring that much money into the actual security part. McCree didn't have his breaking tools on him, but he did have a hydraulic jack in his leg and that was good enough. The maglock exploded under the force of his kick in a shower of sparks and light.

    "Knight Errant is headed your way, you need to move!" Hana's voice cut in. McCree cursed under his breath. Hanzo and Genji blinked at him.
    "Boys, now would be a good time to show me the exit."
    "This way. Why, did you trip the alarm?"
    "I was expecting sub machine guns, not archers."
    "Research your target next time." Hanzo hissed, taking off at a sprint. McCree and Genji followed at his heels, chased by the sound of shouting in the elevator shaft behind them. Knight Errant would be on this floor soon. They couldn't afford to be here when they arrived.

Chapter Text

    Save for the low hum of decorative florescent street lamps, the night was silent as the three men slipped out of the castle and into the alleyways of Hanamura. McCree put his hands on his hips and surveyed his surroundings. This was just a dirty back alley, full of exhaust vents and dumpsters and very little else. It was likely this was an empty lot, reserved by someone with a lot of money to put down on real estate. McCree pulled a cigar out of the holder in his pocket and flicked open a compartment on his arm to fish out a lighter.
    "Alright boys, this is where we part ways."
    "Wait-" Genji began to object, but McCree held up a hand to stop him.
    "That was the deal. I'm still a little cross with your family for killin' one of my crew and tryin' to kill me."
    "We had nothing to do with that." Hanzo snarled. His posture changed suddenly, relaxing and becoming surprisingly professional. "We could have something to do with keeping you safe, however."
    "Hm?" McCree paused. His lighter wasn't cooperating. His unlit cigar bobbed as he spoke. "I don't need protection, fellas."
    "The Shimada family will scour the streets for you. Nearly every building is owned by or under protection by this family. Where will you go? How will you know whether or not you are safe there?"
    "Boys, I'm high-tailin' it out of Hanamura first thing in the morning."
    "You think they will let you just walk away? Once they find us missing, you will be their highest priority. No one will leave without facing a security check until we are found."
    "So you want t' stick with me in the shadows until the heat dies down, is that it?"
    "Precisely. We will help you avoid unnecessary danger, you will provide an amount of protection and experience being..." He struggled to find the correct word. "A criminal."
    "Criminal?" McCree mused, finally getting his cigar to light. He took a deep drag and blew the smoke out through his nose. It burned but it looked cool, so he did it sometimes just for the hell of it. "You fellas didn't think this through, did you."

    Genji motioned for Hanzo to step aside with him, exchanging a nod of understanding with McCree. He couldn't make out what they were saying, but it got heated several times before they returned to earshot.

    "You are a Shadowrunner. That much is obvious." Genji began. "Which means you are better connected to illegitimate resources and more familiar with being an unknown than we are. If we wish to hide, it would seem that under the wing of a Shadowrunner would be most ideal."
    "Fair enough. But why should I stick my neck out for you two? We made an even trade, I don't owe you anything from this point on."
    "What if we had work for you?" Genji's eyes sparkled dangerously. "We wish to see our family's empire destroyed. The planning and executing of such a task would require-"
    "A hell of a lot of cash, a lot of spilled blood, and for me to drag people into this that don't need that kinda heat on 'em."
    "We would not be the only ones seeking to destroy the Shimadas. We could offer our service to any number of high profile and well playing companies. I can think of a few right now - Ares, Renraku, even Mitsuhama."
    "And we have knowledge that would give us the upper hand." Hanzo cut in. He was clearly irritated by his brother's taking charge and itching for a chance to speak. "We are asking to run the shadows with you in a crusade."
    "Three people ain't gonna take down a corporation as big as the Shimadas."
    "You have contacts, do you not?"
    "Like I said, they don't need that kinda heat."
    "Very well. Let me put it to you this way, then." Hanzo stepped forward menacingly. He was shorter than McCree, but radiated power in every way. His tattoo shimmered and rippled with energy. A shaman. McCree thought. Dragon shaman, by the looks of the ink.
    "You will help us establish a career as shadowrunners. We will wage our war with or without you once we are established. If you are lucky, we will forget your face. More likely, we will hunt you down after the fact for being a stubborn fool."
    "Well when you put it so nicely." He tried on a smile, failed, sighed. "You really wanna get your feet wet that bad, fine. Guess I ain't got nothin' better to do anyway."

    Hanzo and Geni exchanged surprised glances. It had been easier than they'd expected to get him to change his mind. McCree chuckled, tapping the ash off the end of his cigar. He spun on his heel and started to wander forth into the night. It felt odd to suddenly be running the show. Speaking of - he stopped short, causing Hanzo to nearly crash into him - he had to check in with Diesel.

    "Yo, Diesel."
    "McCree? Finally. I was starting to think you were down, too. You get out?"
    "Yep. What's the damage?"
    "Storm rallied and made it out, we're taking her to a clinic nearby right now."
    "Oh shit." McCree started walking again, faster this time. He had to see Storm and apologize for leaving her behind. He was certain she had bit it. "I'm on my way."
    "Where?" Hanzo hissed, catching up. Genji motioned for him to be quiet, received a harsh glare for it, rolled his eyes.
    "To get paid and apologize." McCree mumbled. "Where's the nearest clinic?"
    "The Outpost." Genji chimed in. "It's a chop shop, cyberware clinic, and medical station."
    "And not under Shimada's thumb?"
    "No - I got my surgeries there. The doctor is quite competent."
    At the mention of his brother's surgery, Hanzo stiffened. McCree was beginning to sense a theme with these two. He wasn't ready to say he regretted the - admittedly questionable - decision to run with these men, but he was on his way.

    Angela Ziegler was busy reconstructing the ruined trachea of the shadowrunner brought in five minutes prior to Jesse McCree kicking down her door. She didn't need to look up to know it was her old friend and pseudo brother figure - the shadow of his stupid hat was obscuring her work.

    "Jesse McCree, if you do not move I will have you locked in a freezer with the rest of the corpses."
    "Angie? The hell are you doing in Hanamura?"
    Audible shock tinged McCree's words. Angela sighed. She hadn't meant to reveal her presence so soon, but she was already resigned to McCree's meddling in her affairs. If it was up to her he would never know at all. Months of stealthy tailing only for her cover to be blown by a botched run. His botched run.

    "I go where I am needed, Jesse, you know that."
    "Bullshit. You're followin' me."
    "I go where I am needed." She snapped, looking up long enough to fix him with a firm glare. She had to do a double take when she saw his company. Hanzo and Genji Shimada. One of these two she was glad to see - the other was as displeased by her presence as she was by his. A blank expression replaced her surprise and she spoke flatly. "You're looking well, Genji."
    "Thank you, doctor." A tentative pause. "I was unaware you two were acquainted."
    "McCree, who the fuck are these guys?"

    Diesel emerged from a back room, clearly agitated and dog tired. Hanzo and Genji bristled simultaneously in anticipation of a fight. McCree held up a hand for calm, which was promptly ignored.

    "These boys helped me get out, they're fixin' to become runners."
    "Where exactly did you pick up two elves on your way out?"
    McCree shrugged. This was not a satisfactory answer.
    "Hana said you had to cut through a prison block - don't tell me you sprung criminals on an already fucked run?"
    "Alright. I won't tell you that, but I won't tell you you're wrong."
    "You left Storm, but had time to-"
    There was a massive clang of metal and a frustrated snarl. Everyone in the room froze, turning their attention to the fuming doctor in the middle of the squabble.
    "I. Am. Working! Argue elsewhere, unless you would like to lose your associate today?"

    Angela listened in on the argument as it migrated to the front waiting room. Hanzo and Genji Shimada wanted to become shadowrunners, of all things. If they were imprisoned, she suspected this was a revenge mission for them. If Jesse was choosing to take them under his wing, she had no choice but to do the same. Genji was easy enough to get along with anyway - she had many pleasant conversations with him as she worked on his cyberware. His brother, however, she expected trouble from.

    Hanzo Shimada had confronted her once already, furious that she had "destroyed" his brother's body. Genji had arrived with a simple and polite request to reduce his essence as much as possible. He claimed it was vital to his survival to do so and that he feared waiting any longer would endanger his life. Angela was no expert in matters of the astral plane, but she was an expert in not allowing people to die on her watch, and so she did what she could. She managed to convince him not to use older wares that were going to damage his body and essence, even suggesting bioware in some cases to help him transition. This wasn't the first time she'd filled a request like this and she remembered just how damaging the wrong equipment could be. Sharing the story of her time in Berlin and a girl named Glory ultimately won Genji over into getting fresher metal.

    The runner on her table twitched, probably in response to the slamming of the front door. Sedating physical adepts was always difficult - their bodies were too well-tuned against foreign substances. Angela reached for another syringe of sedatives and nearly groped Jesse in the process. He was staring hard at her face and frowning.

    "Do you have something to say, or are you considering becoming a surgeon yourself?"
    "Well I just forfeited the payment to a run because I agreed to screw myself over for a couple of strangers, and found out my friend is tailin' me across Japan. So I'd reckon I have a lot to say, Angie."
    "Then say it. I can't stop you." She buried herself in her work like she always did when she wanted to escape difficult questions.
    "First off, how long have you been doin' this?"
    "Since you left Vegas." Her voice was soft with apology. It would have been easier to simply tell him and refuse to leave his side, but she wasn't good with confrontations like that. The last thing Angela Ziegler wanted to do was drive away the people she was trying so hard to protect. She stole a glance at McCree, who was staring at her in disbelief.
    "So all across America, through England, to Germany, Spain, India, and China. And now you're here in Japan. For what? Just to keep tabs on me?"
    "More or less. You are not a careful man. Somebody needs to be concerned for your health. If you won't be, then I will."
    "How do you know the Shimadas? You worked on the cybered up elf?" A clumsy dodge of her sentiment. Expected but not appreciated.
    "Yes, I worked on Genji. I can't tell you why because I do not know exactly why he wanted the surgeries. I did what I was asked to do."
    "And the other one? The shaman?"
    "I've dealt with him before, but never as a customer. He was displeased with my involvement with Genji."
    "What all do you know about 'em?"
    "That they are the sons of the head of the Shimada clan. That Genji feared for his life if he didn't shred his essence. That Hanzo Shimada is heavily opposed to cyberware. I don't pry, you know that."
    "Like hell you don't pry!"

    The conversation stopped as Hanzo and Genji re-entered the room, apparently having just finished an argument with the other runners. Hanzo was fuming to an almost comical degree, Genji's face was unreadable as ever. Angela laid down her tools and pinched the bridge of her nose. These distractions were going to cost her a patient if she wasn't careful. Best to wrap this up here and now.

    "There's a safe room here." She said suddenly. Jesse blinked slowly at her.
    "What exactly do you mean by 'safe room', Angie?"
    "Third morgue locker on the bottom. Pull it out all the way, there's a crawlspace and a staircase under a hatch. It was here when I moved in, but it's secure and cleaned up. You can run your little crew out of there. Nobody will look for you here."
    "Angie, that's not-"
    "Go. See if it's to your liking. I have to work."

    McCree knew better than to argue with Angela when she got that edge in her voice. Sure enough, there was a crawlspace and vault-style hatch leading to a staircase under the locker. A handle on the bottom of the drawer allowed it to be pulled back into place on the way down. It was a seamless hidden entrance. Although the basement-like area it opened up into smelled of must and antiseptic, it was spacious and already had an old couch, a round wooden table, and some folding chairs. The light switch activated a strip of fluorescent lighting along the ceiling that cast a sickly blue glow over the corpse-gray concrete walls. All the way in the back corner, hidden in shadows and covered in cobwebs, was another vault door with a note taped to the handle.

    "Sewer Entrance: Extremely Unsanitary, Do Not Open - Dr. Ziegler"

    Hanzo wrinkled his nose in disgust. Clearly this place was not to his liking. Genji, however, was observing the room with quiet curiosity. He ran his fingertips over the rough fabric of the couch and laughed. The short, almost sharp, chuckle took McCree by surprise. This wasn't a glamorous set up, but here was this corp-raised stranger laughing like this was the life he always wanted. He supposed he could understand the lure of the shadows to someone who had little challenge in their life, though. The thrill of it all had kept him alive in dark times, no reason it wouldn't lure an over-cybered heart back to the land of the emotional.

    "It isn't much right now, but we can arrange for more furniture and equipment." Angela, having stabilized her patient, emerged from the stairwell. She had blood on her sleeves and doctor's coat but it didn't seem to bother her any.
    "It's a start, that's for sure." McCree whistled. "You sure about all this?"
    "Of course. I followed you this far to keep you safe. I won't let you wander around with a target on your back. Hide here between your runs. Speaking of which-"
    "Nuh-uh, you're not goin' to be our fixer, Angie."
    "Why not?" She asked, voice thick with indignation. "You know your runs will be safe if they come through me. Besides, nobody would know where to find you. Where else could you get your runs from?"

    McCree sighed in resignation. Apparently, today was "give up easy" day. He was tired, sore, and didn't really have a plan anyway. He had been living minute to minute up until he was hired to help with this run. He looked over his shoulder at his new crew, watched Genji examine everything, watched Hanzo sneer at everything. These were the people he would be signing his life over to if he carried through with this plan. But what did he have to return to? Whatever motel he stayed at last? No, the Shimadas would be able to find him there. And anywhere else he chose to go. Even if they raided Angela's shop they wouldn't be able to find their way down here. If they did, they would just bail through the sewers. With Hanzo and Genji in his pocket, he would be able to avoid the majority of consequences for screwing up this run. Even McCree in all his reluctance to pull his friends into this mess had to admit this was the safest option for him.

    "Angela Ziegler, you're inheriting my deathwish."
    "Forcibly removing it from your hands, more like."
    "One condition." McCree reached for a new cigar despite Angela's frown at his smoking habit. "This is my space down here an' I get to smoke in it."

    With an exasperated sigh, Angela turned on her heel and left the room.

Chapter Text

"Son of a bitch, it actually fit." McCree whistled, looking over his new mission computer critically. The past week had been an exercise in fitting furniture and bulky electronics through a manhole cover and down a sewer tunnel discreetly. This particular piece had come down in three sections to be assembled in the safe room. He passed Genji a credstick with 20 nuyen on it. "Don't get too cocky, I don't lose many bets."
    "Yes, I am sure you are a fantastic gambler. Usually." The elf mused.

    The room was starting to look more like an actual living space now. Aside from the shiny new computer set up, most of the furnishings were old and worn. Two bookshelves held alcohol, non-perishables, and medical supplies against the back wall. Angela "donated" a fridge and hotplate as well in the hopes that they wouldn't just eat total junk food for the rest of their days, but the fridge was pretty much empty. The previous couch had been replaced by a slightly newer one that didn't feel like it was made of brillo pads, and set up in front of it was a basic but functional trideo screen. Medical screens provided a shred of privacy between the three cots set up in the corner. A shred.

    Aside from paying for the furnishings with her own money, Angela had covered the cost of Genji and Hanzo's new gear. Armor and weapons made to be exact replicas of the gear they'd left at home. It wasn't easy to find someone willing to make such primitive gear - a traditional katana and a longbow of all things - but she finally found an ex-runner-turned-tinkerer named Winston living just outside of Tokyo who was willing to craft for them. This had just about wiped out Angela's savings. McCree was about to go upstairs and ask about finding some income when the computer screen lit up with a message prompt.

> From "Mercy"
> To "McCree"
> [I hope this name is satisfactory, you mentioned not wanting my real name written down anywhere. Do the brothers have runner handles yet? I have some ideas about how to begin hurting the Shimadas, but I need some things from you first. Before I agree to send you on anything even remotely related to your little crusade, I need to know that you will function as a team. I'm sending you a potential run with a 1,500 nuyen payout with room for a bonus if you perform well. Second, you owe me roughly 20,000 nuyen as of this morning. I will be taking a cut of your earnings until you've paid the debt off. I'll cover the costs of food and lodging, but from now on gear and alcohol is on you.]

    McCree nodded his head in reluctant agreement. It had been extraordinarily kind of Angie - Mercy, now, he reminded himself - to cover all those costs and it was only right he pay her back. The information for the run was attached in a separate document and detailed a theoretically simple smash-and-grab on a new Lumerico installment in Osaka. A three hour journey or so, if they took the metro.

    "Alright boys." Genji and Hanzo looked up from their respective activities. "We've got work to do."
    "Already?" Hanzo blinked.
    "Yup. Just a buffer for our wallet, though. We ain't makin' a move on the Shimadas for a long while."
    "Understandable." The shaman grunted, focusing again on tightening his bowstring.
    "Saddle up for a smash and grab, we're rolling out as soon as y'all are ready."

    The lights of the metro left a pulsing ache behind Hanzo's eyes. He closed them, focused on his breathing, his heartbeat. The cowboy had outlined the run as a simple one. Break in, steal some data, forward the data to an anonymous "Mr. Johnson", and get paid. A few ideas about extra information gathering and even physical theft had been thrown around but Hanzo didn't consider himself a common criminal and wasn't interested in money. This run was about testing the cowboy's mettle for him. If his brother's worth could be proven, well, that would be convenient as well.

    It would take more than performing well for Genji Shimada to be back in his brother's good graces. The Dragon spirit had chosen them both for greatness, but only one brother had bothered to accept the immense power that was being offered. No, Genji fled from the responsibility as he had from all his other responsibilities. The shaman's eyes assessed his brother's chrome-and-wire-riddled body critically. The newly titled street samurai brushed off the glare with practiced ease.

    "We're here." McCree's spurs clinked cheerfully as he started out of the train. "Dinner's on me if this goes smooth."

    The building was shaped like a ziggurat and plated in dark, reflective glass. It was fresh out of the construction stage, too. Scaffolding was still being disassembled on the east side. They used the shadows of this scaffolding to hide in as they approached the building. McCree scanned the area, chewing his cigar thoughtfully. Security was clearly light on the bottom floor, but would probably thicken around the high profile offices on the upper floors. McCree was counting on the Johnson's intel to be good, or this wouldn't work. He had a plan that he hadn't run by the boys yet.

    "Hey, shaman."
    Hanzo grunted.
    "How's your climbin' skills?"
    "Can y' scale up to that top floor from the outside?"
    The shaman appraised the walls, running his fingertips over the sheer surface and eyeing the scaffolding almost reluctantly.
    "Yes." He said slowly. "But it will take some time to do so unseen."
    "Do it. Chrome Alley and I are goin' through the front door. When I comm you, get ready to put them legs to good use."
    The shaman began his ascent while McCree motioned for Genji to follow.

    Big corporations never sleep. McCree thought, nodding to the young security guard by the door. The front desk was staffed by an exhausted wage slave who couldn't have been more than twenty years old. She glanced up at the odd pair and did a double take as she saw Genji. Cyberware was common. Being more metal than flesh was not. Her eyes dulled as she decided questioning the pair was above her paygrade and her greeting was bland.

    "Welcome to Lumerico's Osaka branch. How can I help you?"
    "We're here about a security breach." McCree's tone was firm and uncharacteristically professional. Genji eyed him curiously.
    "I see." The woman sighed and reached to pick up a desk phone. McCree held his hand up with a smile.
    "A private security breach, ma'am. If you don't mind."
    "Right. What floor?"
    "What floor? I'll need you to sign in and I'll need to call maintenance on the floor you're going to so that they can unlock the server room."
    "We were told you would know." Genji's voice held an edge that surprised McCree. The woman shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
    "I'm...afraid I don't. Like you said, it's a private matter so-"
    "Do you know who are?" The elf leaned over the desk. "What family we are with?"
    "Tch." Genji waved her away dismissively. "Make a note that we arrived. We will find the servers ourselves."
    "Wait, I-"
    "You do not want our chairmen to find out you hindered our visit."
    "Chairmen?" The woman blinked. Realization crept over her features slowly. Her words came out in a timid squeak. "O-Oh. I...right. I'll...You don't need to sign in. The server rooms are on floors three, five, and seven. I'll have maintenance unlock all of them. I'm very sorry I can't be more helpful. I hope you'll put in a good word for Lumerico."
    "We will see."

    When the men were out of earshot, McCree whistled, impressed. Genji shot him a knowing smirk, punching the floor number into the elevator.
    "Boy, if the yakuza find out we just impersonated them for a run-"
    "Why would they find out? Lumerico will not be here to ask if we do our jobs tonight."
    "Clever. Mighty clever."

    The server rooms were easy to find and unlocked as promised. McCree hadn't wanted to spring more money on hiring a decker, so the specific servers had to be removed and carried out manually. That was where Hanzo would come in. He'd arranged for the Johnson to mark the goods beforehand, though he didn't know what the symbol would be. Mercy had assured him he'd be able to tell whe he saw it. That made the little pink sugar skulls the most likely candidates.

    Genji played lookout while McCree gathered the first set of servers. Three on the first floor, one on each of the remaining floors. Security consisted mostly of fresh-faced new hires who had probably never done any physical fighting in their lives. They seemed too nervous to ask questions. Although, McCree admitted with a smile, that might be because Genji had them thinking they were yakuza. Why the yakuza would employ a cowboy and someone bordering on being a cyberzombie was a question above their paygrade. Well, well above their paygrade.

"I assume you have a plan for getting us out of here? I doubt they will let us leave with a duffle bag full of their servers, yakuza or not."
    "That's where your brother comes into play."
    "How so?"

    The bag they carried, now full of stolen servers and hopefully a hearty payday, was beginning to draw looks. The run had passed without incident up until now and McCree almost regretted that this plan required noise. He ducked into a nearby conference room and motioned for Genji to guard the door.

    "Hanzo, where're you now?"
    "In position."
    "Good, good. Can you see me?"
    "No, the glass is darkened."
    "Well we're gonna need you to crack into that room and grab the last server." Genji looked over his shoulder quizzically. "We're gonna make some noise outside the door for you."
    After a long pause, Hanzo sighed. "Very well. When?"
    "Now would be good."
    McCree shut off his comm completely, fired two shots into the air, and motioned for a startled and confused Genji to follow him to the elevators. Somewhere a few floors above them, a window shattered, attracting a stampede of footsteps from floors both above and below. Realization and something close to anger greeted McCree when he locked eyes with Genji in the elevator.
    "We could have found a way out without putting my brother in danger."
    "Eh, he'll handle it. Building's understaffed as is."
    "I do not dispute that he has much skill, but-"
    "But we're weighed down with loot and he ain't, so if someone has to have their hands full of security detail it might as well be the one who can dance circles around 'em. Besides," McCree handed Genji the bag while he lit up a cigar. They pushed past a flood of guards who paid them no mind on their way out of the elevator. "I bet he's the type to get cross if he has to sit on the sidelines. Wouldn't want t' disappoint him, now would we?"

    An office with two shell-shocked guards and no sign of his brother or the cowboy. Hanzo realized all at once that he was the distraction and that there were no servers in this room to steal. Cursing under his breath, he drew his bow and took out the first guard with ease. The second had seen him sooner and was reaching for his gun, but an arrow through the back of the hand was enough to delay him. Hanzo's leg shot out to hook around a nearby bookshelf. It was heavy and filled with old, hardcover books, but his years of physically tuning his body to be a perfect weapon didn't care about that kind of weight. It tumbled forward onto the guard and either killed him outright or knocked him unconscious - Hanzo wasn't paying attention anymore. He could hear footsteps rushing to his position.
    There was enough time to load a sonar-tipped arrow and fire it at the doorway, but it wouldn't mean much if they were already breaking down the door. Hanzo kicked the bookshelf in front of it to slow them down, fired the arrow, and cursed again. Five bodies, none of them friendly.

"Position?" His comm crackled to life. The cowboy was out of breath and running.
"In danger, thanks to your little stunt." He hissed.
"Aw, hun, gimme some credit. It was a good plan-"
"Do you have a plan to get me to safety?"
"Sure. Go out the same way y' came in. We'll cover you from ground level."
"There are hostiles inside."
"Then get outside."

I hunger.

    Hanzo Shimada took a deep breath and drew his next arrow. The world was so much clearer when the Dragon spoke to him. Time slowed to a crawl as he pulled back the string. The cowboy and his trick were forgotten for the moment. His tattoo lit up in beautiful blues and golds, crackling and pulsing with energy and light. As he felt the wyrms begin to rise from his skin, the words of summoning pushed past his lips, out of his control.

    "Ryū ga waga teki o kurau!"

    The wyrms manifested as specters, the same pale blue as the light pouring from his tattoo. They tore through the wooden door, splintering it and ripping it from its hinges. The men did not have time to scream. Their bodies collapsed, one after the other, as the spirits tore through them, rending soul from flesh and boiling the blood in their veins with the heat of their hunger. Hanzo admired their shimmering forms long enough to lock eyes with the feasting beasts before blackness began to fade into his vision.

    The glass shattered beneath his weight when he fell backwards into the window. Searing pain told him he'd been cut, but he was too tired to care. He heard Genji's voice call out to him, felt the impact of being caught mid-fall, but the wyrms had drained him of all that he had. Each summon felt like death. Perhaps it was - after all, his spiritual essence had been all but replaced by the coiled wyrm spirits, and here he was throwing them at his enemies and leaving himself an empty shell.

    They would find their way home later. They always did. Dragons did not leave their lairs for long.