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“You see that sniper with the Berlin team?”

“What?”  Malcolm Wu grunted, his face buried in the seat’s cushion.

“The troll girl.  With the military gear.  You saw her?”

            Malcolm Wu cracked an eye open and looked over at his foster brother.  “She’s somewhere around 2 and a half meters tall, Duncan.  Yes I saw her.”

            “What was her name again?”  The muscular orc craned his neck around, trying to peer over the plush leather seats of the airplane.

            “Oh…”  Malcolm groaned, struggling into an upright position in his chair, clearly trying to think, “Don’t precisely recall… Eineman or Eagle or…”

            “Eiger.”    Duncan nodded.  “That was it.  Eiger.”

            “Sounds probable.”  Malcolm sighed.  “Why do you…?”  The elf trailed off suddenly, looking at his brother.

            Duncan looked back.

            Malcolm deflated.  “Oh no.”

            “I’m just being careful.”  Duncan growled defensively.  “Trying to keep an eye on the people this Lofwyr has us working with.”

            “Cheng.”  Malcolm responded, rubbing his eyes.  “Cheng has us working with them.  Lofwyr is her client.  Eiger and the others are his agents, sent as reinforcements.  Which yes, is irregular, which is why I would like to keep tension between our respective parties to a minimum, after the way Racter reacted to their… medic, or whatever.”

            “What the hell was with that, anyway?”  Gobbet suddenly spoke up.  The orc shaman lifted herself lazily up from her seat just past Duncan.  “I mean, Racter’s always creepy, but he was smiling!  And being all… flirty!

            Duncan blinked at her.  “Oh, c’mon.  He was being friendly, sure…”

            “No, he was flirting with her.”  Malcolm shook his head.  “Improbable as that seems.”

            “Mal, you’ve talked to him.  Does he… have a chrome kink, or something?”  Gobbet asked.

            “Girl might have a kink herself.”  Duncan snorted.  “Most of that chrome’s older than she is.”

            “I don’t think Racter has kinks.”  Malcolm shrugged.  “Though if he did chrome would probably be it.  The girl, though… she’d have been a lot friendlier to Racter if that was the case.”

            Duncan grunted.  “Got a point there.”

            “So what’s up with Racter?”  Gobbet asked again.

            Malcolm shook his head.  “Professional curiosity, I presume… look, these Flux State cast-offs aren’t particularly happy about working with us, either.  I’d rather not introduce any more complications…” he glared at his brother, “…until we’ve met with Lofwyr’s man in Seattle and figured out what we’re supposed to be doing about these bug-monster things.”

            “Aye aye, chief.”  Gobbet settled back into her chair.

            “I’m not looking to complicate things.  I’m just asking about her.”  Duncan protested.

            “Sure.”  Malcolm grumbled, settling back into his seat.  “Next thing you know I’m going to have to deal with Gobbet taking a shine to that mage of theirs.”

            “Oh my word, ew.”  Gobbet looked back up.  “That guy’s old enough to be my father.  He’s old enough to be YOUR father.”

            “Thanks, Gobs.  Really appreciate the extra emphasis there.”

            “I’m just saying.  Old guys aren’t my thing.”

            “Which reminds me, since when are girls your thing?”  Malcolm glanced at his brother.

            “Say what?”  Gobbet did a double take.

            Duncan just rolled his eyes.  “David was a long time ago, Mal.”

            “Ohmiword seriously?”  Gobbet’s mouth dropped open.  “This whole time?  And you never… holy shit, when I think about how Cheng was undressing you with her eyes…”

            Duncan winced.  “You can stop now.”

            Gobbet ignored him.  “Iz, wake up!”  She jostled the dwarf hacker’s shoulder.  “You’ve gotta hear this!”

            Is0be1 just grunted and rolled over.  “Go ‘way, Gobbet.”  She mumbled.

            “Look… just… David’s never been the whole story with me, okay?”  Duncan waved his hand.  “Even back then.” 

            Malcolm grunted.   “Wondered how you knew about the neighbor lady’s tattoo.”  He said, after a few moments.

            “There you are.”  Duncan raised his hand and let it drop.  “So what’s so weird about me being interested in a beautiful, strong she-troll who can wrestle a mummy into submission and headshot a flying gargoyle at half-a-mile?”

            “We ever find out what was up with that ambush?” Gobbet reached back absently to scratch one of her rats.  “Pretty ballsy, to hit us right outside the airport.”

            Malcolm shrugged.  “All we got out of that scrawny little goblin was ‘Black Lodge,’ but that doesn’t mean anything to me.  Doubt it meant much to the goblin either.”

            “That’s for sure.”  Duncan’s eyes got a little light in them.  “He would have told us if he knew.  Eiger practically had him pissing himself, Mal.  Pissing himself!  And she barely lifted a finger.”  He shook his head.  “So hot.”

            “If you’re into that sort of thing, I guess.”

            Gobbet giggled.  Duncan glared and slapped Malcolm.   “I meant that this is a lady who’s clearly trained to rip out teeth and fingernails if she needs to get someone to talk, and she wormed that tidbit out of him with a glare and a bloody trench knife.”  He held up a finger.  “Power, and restraint.”

            Malcolm studied his brother for a moment.  “Well, that makes sense, I guess.”  He leaned back.  “For the record, I still think this is a bad idea.”

            “Hang on, you’re letting him do this?”  Gobbet asked.

            “You’re still not allowed to go after the mage.”  Malcolm said, eyes closed.

            “Aaaaand that’s still disgusting.”

            “Duncan’s only getting a pass on this because I’m pretty sure that she-troll could punch him clear across the room if he got too hand-sy.”  A grin touched the corners of Malcolm’s tired mouth and he stretched.  “So don’t do anything stupid, Duncan.  Or say anything stupid.”

            “Umm… about that.”  Duncan looked uncomfortable again.  “I was… sort of hoping… you could talk to her.  You know, tell her I’m interested, sound her out, talk her around if she’s on the fence.”

            Malcolm stopped in the middle of his luxurious stretch.  “What.”

“You’re good at this talking bullshit.”  Duncan took off his goggles.  “I’m not.”

            “Well, as someone who’s good at this ‘talking bullshit’,”  Malcolm grumbled, “Let me at first tell you that characterizing other people’s talent groups as ‘bullshit’ is impolite.”

            “And as a girl, let me tell you that getting someone else to ask the girl out for you is a pussy move.”  Gobbet chimed in.  “Seriously, man?  Show some spine, you faced off against a Yama King, “

            “And Mal here talked that Yama King into leaving without a single soul lost.”  Duncan pointed out.  “You’re telling me you wouldn’t want him as a wing man?”

            “This feels more like a ‘point man’ type scenario.”  Malcolm frowned.

            “Malcolm!”  Duncan insisted.  “Will you talk to her?! Please!”

            Malcolm sighed.  “Oh, all right.  I’ll give it my best shot.”

#

            Eiger looked up as Malcolm dropped into the seat next to her.   “My brother thinks you’re an enchanting and beautiful woman with fascinating talents, and he’d like to fuck you.”  The elf mage announced.

            The towering ex-military troll blinked at the elf, slowly.  “Excuse me?”

            “He’d like to fuck you.”  Malcolm said.  “Repeatedly.  And exclusively.  Over an extended period of time, if possible.  It would probably be best for this to be solemnized with a religious ritual that could establish a mutually beneficial living arrangement.  But of course that’s a lot of work, and obviously he knows that you can’t fuck just anyone, so as a preliminary to establish negotiations to that end, he’d like to take you out.  To dinner.”

            Eiger stared at him for a long second.  “Your brother is asking me out on a date.”

            “Yes.”

            “And he couldn’t ask me himself because…?”

            “Women terrify him.  Even seven foot-tall former black ops women that share his love of automatic weaponry and civil order.”

            “And you’re… what.”  Eiger narrowed her eyes.  “Purposely botching this because you don’t think I’m good enough, or something?”

            “I’m not botching this.”

            “No?”

            “You’re considering it, aren’t you?”  Malcolm cocked his head.  “I’m not botching this.  I’m embarrassing my brother.  Hopefully he won’t ask me to do this a second time.”

            Eiger sighed.  “You guys are weird.  Even for shadowrunners.”

            “So is that a yes?”

            Eiger studied the elf for a moment.  She glanced over at the squat shape of Duncan.  For a moment she just stared off into the distance.

            Then she shrugged.  “Eh, why not.”

            “Good enough.”  Malcolm slid off the chair.

            “Nothing too elaborate or fancy.”  Eiger said.  “We’ve got work to do.”

            “Seattle’s a war zone, last I heard.  I doubt anything too fancy or elaborate will be available.”  Malcolm shrugged.  He started to move off..

            “For the record, if your brother sends you on the date, the whole deal is off.” Eiger called after him.

            “There’s limits to brotherhood.”  Malcolm said.