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Welcome to Withmore

A short story by Ergoproxy

From: DEFCON-0
Subject: Welcome to Withmore (SoyWhiz)

Hey chummer,

Let me first tell you that I feel like a baka for how we left things, it was a real Chinese takeout. You were good to me and I took off in the middle of the night with our flash without even saying goodbye, I scan how it looked but please don't peg me for a Goodman Cain. I just couldn't stand the prospect of spending yet another night in that shitty hotel in San Mara.

Plus the local manos kept eyeballing me, they knew I didn't belong there, they could smell the stink of the Sprawl in me. Shit, I know we agreed on going to the Dome together but trust me, if the Rad Scorpions caught you with me we both would be slatjobs by now. So maybe you ought to thank me for leaving your ass in the desert.

If you are reading this that means that somehow you made it here and hacked into my grid node, even if it was to find my ass and teach me a sour lesson. You always were a wiz working that deck choomba, the best damn cyber jokey I ever met. Honestly at his juncture I don't care if you are mad at me anymore, anyways welcome to Withmore chum!

You know what they say, nothing in life is free but I feel like I owe you so I thought I'd give you some paydata on my experience under the dome so far, so that you get some proper guidance in order to survive and don't trip with the same stones I did.

I am assuming you got in by the Omega Gate, the immigration process is sure fucked up. They put all your clothes and your gear through the torch, then they hose you down with that green antiseptic foam that burns your fucking eyes and finally they seal it with a bow when they stab you with that dermal needle on the neck. I passed out a few seconds after that and kissed the dirt, I bet the same thing happened to you.

Then when you wake up, BOOM! All that fucking shit going through your brain, it would give anyone a migraine, right?! Only a corporate city state like this would think having a chip stuck in your neck and the thoughts of 65 million people in your head was a good idea. If I ever find out the choombas that pitched the idea of the 'Security Identification Network' to the Corporate Council, I will slap them silly!

So hopefully after going through immigrations you got yourself some threads at the clothing depo and aren't walking down the streets butt naked, if you haven't and went straight to hit the Street Terminals, please retrace your steps. The depo is opposite to the public coffins, passing 'Immy', you know that damn hologram that yells at people in Russian.

Forget about getting a job, the last thing this dome needs is another fucking programmer. In fact there are almost as many unemployed deckers as there are hookers on the streets, actually many of those hookers used to be unemployed deckers.

Let me give you a quick recap of Withmore, you got four sectors: Red aka 'The Mix' that is the shithole where you are standing right now, bout 90% of the city's population is crammed down there, a fucking cesspool of scum and villainy. Don't take this the wrong way, but you are soft chum and you couldn't fight your way out of a wet paper bag, you'll be dead by dinnertime. So let's work on getting your ass out of there ASAP.

Then over Red, you have Gold, downtown, corpie central. Every street is owned by a corporation, no joke and at the center of it all is the 'Hall of Justice', the fucking golden palace that the Judges call home. Those Jakes sure don't fuck around, so don't be getting fresh with them or they will give you clone death for looking at them funny and call it 'undermining judicial authority' or some other made-up bullshit charge.

Then over Gold, you have Green, which is an appropriate name cause it's a burb calve and shit. Corpies trying to get away from the city life and raise a family or whatever, mostly white picket fences and one megamall or two. Boring as fuck up there, no nightlife at all chum.

Finally over Green, we have Blue, which is as high as the sky hence why they call it that. Here is where the top 1% of the Topsiders hangout, la creme de la creme, CEOs, holovid gods and rockstars like Juicy Vee. Unlike the rest of the levels this one has no mag-lev to it, you can only get your ass up to the clouds via the express tube or an aerodyne. Chombalakas up there be having arcologies, petting zoos, real organic food not the vatgrown shit or soy derivatives most of are used eat. So this place is DA shit, but if you show up and don't belong the Withmore Judicial Force will exterminate your ass no questions asked.

So that's pretty much the lay of the land here in the Sindome, normally you would be doing a bunch of immy shit jobs like running crates for ACME & WW or doing errands for gangers, like going to the nice dreams machine to hook them up with their daily fix of V-202. But I's got you covered on that front, so don't worry your pretty little head about that chummer, I'll give the deets further below.

We have a lot to catch-up on, so let me tell you a bit about what I've been up to since I got here. Let me say choomba, this Dome has fucked me up for life and I've been places...but never like this one. Pulling your weigh when you are a Streetsam pushing forty ain't easy, you just aren't as fast as you used to be and in this line of work one nanosecond can be the difference between life and death.

I needed an edge, so I started pumping drugs like they were candies which apparently it's the fucking custom here because that's how the clever bastards refer to them. I took Marcy & EXY for speed and endurance, NANAs for power and Endo for my PDS (Psychophysical Disassociation Syndrome, Metal fatigue, fleshitis, etc).

Yup that's right, not even that Goodman cocktail I took every morning was enough to keep up with the solos and razorgirls of this town. So I needed chrome, lots of chrome and nanogenics to keep things competitive. But that shit costs a lot of flash, so I tried to make the most out of every opportunity I could. I sold my left kidney to a crazy ripper doc at Bansupuro Park (don't go to the park, the wild dogs & the cannibals will eat you raw), I took a loan from some neo-Italian Mafioso who owns a cars junkyard and other shit that I am most definitively NOT proud of.

So when I finally had enough chyen, I went to the nearest street clinic and ask the on call cyberdoc to jack me up with some warez. However, what they don't tell you in those fancy holovid commercials is that chrome is addictive as fuck, way worse than any drug. Once you experience the high of being enhanced there is no turning back and you just want more and more and more. I was fucking HOOKED and I didn't even care about the dangers of PDS no more. Faster and faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death baby! WOO!

I got injected with nanos for speed, endurance and power. One cyber eye with a TrueSight(tm) smart targeting interface hooked to my WAI 900LR Carbine. DermalWeave which made me bulletproof and fugly as fuck and retractable Nailz(tm) FingerBlades for when I ran out of bullets and needed to mix it up.

Even with the buckets worth of Endoprine I was taking every day, it wasn't enough to keep my PDS at bay. I was terminal, but I didn't give a fuck and I've never felt more alive before. But the syndrome was going to be the death of me, I knew it and I couldn't fight it or stop it. I was a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode at any moment and when it happened I went fucking nuclear!

I don't exactly remember what went down, I was choking down suicide bombers at the Black Drome like every other Friday and then one of the gangers from the Fuller Street Snakes who was faded on TH-2C said some shit to me and I just snapped right then and there. I pulled out my claws and sliced up that motherbaka to pieces, blood and screams everywhere. Then I went on what cyber doctors refer to as a 'cyber-psychotic roaring rampage', I roared and rampaged and I killed every meatbag who crossed my path that night. When I woke up in my cube the next day, it was all still kind of a blur but the stink of blood in my Du-Wear clothes were a testament that what had transpired the night before wasn't a drugged induced hallucination.

The fallout of the incident was pretty brutal, I had people barfing threats into my mind via Public SIC, Judges demanding that I present myself to the Hall of Justice to be permanently executed and I even made the news on the Sunday's Withmore globe. However the thing that shocked me the most was that 'King Snake' himself dropped me a grid saying that I broke down a lot of shit and people around his turf and if I didn't pay him 100k in 1 week as a restitution, he was going to put up a bounty on my head at Cash N Carrion and let 'the Mix' tear me to shreds. I felt inclined to pay him, but I had most of my flash at Withmore Savings Bank on GOLD, I couldn't go there with my name in the Jakes's bingo board and I doubted the Snakes would take credchip as a manner of payment.

I had to get creative and fast, I pawned most of my gear at Southside Connections and used the money to go play high stakes Cho-han with a bunch of bakutos at Deji-Patchi on North Tamyia. I have to admit, it probably wasn't my brightest moment, but I was fucking desperate. At one point I was going 70K ahead and my gut told me to walk away, but I got greedy and then I lost big time. Now I was indebted to the Yakuza (who owned that fine establishment) for 200k and had only 3 days to pay up. To let me know they weren't fucking around, they beat the shit out of me to the precipice of death with surgical precision. Then to put the cherry on top, they dragged my ass to Sense/Net and updated my clone while I was unconscious so that I could never forget that I was their bitch.

After that they threw me inside the swearers to emphasize their point even more, I woke up covered in shit and with a giant rat chewing on my Protek boots. I switched on the thermal scanner in my cybereye and got the hell outta dodge, evading Bringers, Dune Dragons and Akalumpas on the way out.

I might have been able to escape the sewers but there was no way in hell I was getting out of my debts now, I was fucked, trapped, dead end, no way out. What I did find was wisdom at the end of a Jackel pipe (TH-2C sprinkled with Marcy, its fucking aces!) and came to the realization that I couldn't fight the consequence but I could choose the outcome, I was at the end of the rope but I could have the last laugh if I acted fast enough!

By now I am guessing you already figured it out, you were always a smart kid...I always liked that about you. In case you haven't, cause you hit your head real bad crawling out of one those immigration coffins, then spoiler alert! I am fucking dead. I chose glamorous cement poisoning to the grim alternative of separation trauma via katana. Always the fucking diva! Ha!

This is the part where you listen real close and do exactly as I say. I am jumping off the Skywalk and I will try to land on that abandoned lot behind the New Rose Hotel. Also I used my Nailz to rip out that fucking SIC chip off my neck and smashed it. Now I am going to share a little secret, just between us chums, okay? If you remove and destroy your SIC chip not only WJF won't be able to track your ass down but when you get ghosted you also skip the trip to the vats. Not many people know about this, I found out after I spent the night with a cute Genetek recombination engineer. Now that I am a splatjob, I don't much care for paydata but you keep that to yourself unless you want 'the corps' on your ass for the rest of your life, scan?!

If you are lucky, knowing 'the Mix' and how lazy those bastards at Withmore City Services are. Chances are good that my corpse is still rotting away in that lot. I have a small hacksaw and a syringe of V tugged in the inner pocket of my duster, this shit is made of ballistic gel and spider wave nanomesh kevlar, so I am positive it will survive the fall. Oh yeah, my wallet is in there too must be around 3 thousand chyen in there.

Now you shoot the V and start hacking away, I should be soft enough not to pose any challenge. The nanons have probably gone bad already, but my other warez should still be golden, so you rip those bad boys off me and pocket them. Blood is cheap, but Chrome is forever...never forget that.

You go back to Omega gate and pay 2k at the door and get out, they won't even blink at you twice. Follow the cement road, it will eventually take you to a shop called the 'Crossroads'. Trade my chrome for one of those refitted desert buggies they have outside and keep the change. Then you follow the path east, get some extra fuel for cruising the Badlands at 'Ethicol Rafts' and then keep going. Pedal to the metal, never look back and let the Dome disappear from your rearview mirror. That highway should eventually take you straight to the Free-state of Nevada.

Sayonara chummer!


PS: You know what's funny? Before I moved to Withmore I never had the urge to kill myself!


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