The Plastic Jungle
When the video began the screen displayed a haze of distorted blurred colors which quickly changed as Grappler sat back away from the
camera and came into clear focus. He was visible from the waist up and clad in a leather vest which was open in the front.
“Someone once told me that everyone’s got a story, and no one should let their story go untold.” He stated as he picked up a glass with ice
cubes in it and poured whiskey into it. “Well, here’s my story.”
He set the bottle down and got situated in the chair before he looked directly toward the camera again.
“I go by Grappler. I grew up in the Seattle area. I suppose I had as normal a childhood as anyone else. I lived with my mom and dad, and
my younger sister Cloe. I used to call her Gabs, because I can’t remember a time when she ever shut up. My mom was a drunken slut. That
didn’t make her a bad mom; but she probably could’ve spent more time with her kids than lying on her back. I’m just sayin’…”
He paused briefly to take a drink of whiskey and then continued.
“My dad was a Merc, and he lived a Merc’s life. Sometimes he was gone for weeks. Sometimes he was home for weeks. Either way, all the
best memories, all the fun memories, are with dad. He used to bring us stuff whenever he came back from whatever job he’d been doing.
Sometimes he’d be injured, but it never slowed him down. He took us places. Showed us things we’d likely have never seen otherwise. He
taught us a lot. He taught me how to fight. You know, for a Merc, he was a pretty damn good guy. But, you know, Mercs tend to make
enemies. You know how it is. You get a job, you go on the job and, more often than not, it’s kill or be killed. Blow some shit up. Do what you
gotta do to finish the job. At the end of the day, when the job is done, you go back to wherever it is you go back to and that’s the end of it.
Your opponent doesn’t send a team to relentlessly pursue you. There’s this sort of unspoken grudging respect that comes into play. Sort of like ‘OK, you won this one. We’ll meet again.’ Yeah… well… sometimes, enemies don’t respect the boundaries.”
He took another drink of whiskey and refilled what he’d drank so far from the bottle.
“I’ve never really slept good at night. Even as a kid. It’s not that I couldn’t sleep. I just didn’t want to. There’s always been something about
the night that’s appealed to me. Seeing the land cloaked in a shroud of darkness gives the illusion that all the chaos in the world is somehow
stilled and put aside until the rising of the sun and that, just for a while, everything is calm and serene. It’s total bullshit; but it’s an illusion I
like, so fuck it.
When I was a kid I used to get up in the middle of the night and go sit out on the back porch and just take in the night. Look at the stars.
Listen to the sound of nocturnal creatures. That sort of thing. One night this coyote just appeared out of nowhere. Walked right up to the
back porch and started sniffing around my shoes. I probably shoulda been afraid, but this mutt has some sort of facial twitch that drew the
entirety of my attention to it. His lips would draw back and his jaw would quiver in a certain way and his head would sort of bob in an odd
sort of way. He looked like he was trying to imitate a laughing hyena and falling short of it. I was only 13 or 14 at the time and didn’t really
think it might not be such a good idea to try and pet the beast. So I did, and lucky for me all the dog did was sniff my hand and sit down on
its haunches. I shared part of a sandwich I had with him, and he began coming back on a nightly basis. He got pretty comfortable with me,
for a wild dog, and I named him Skitz because of his hyena imitations. He was the closest thing I ever had to a pet.”
Grappler paused for another drink of whiskey. Something of a frown appeared briefly on his face.
“Skitz and I were out on the back porch when they came. There were three of them. A human with a distinct scar over his right eye. A
female elf with a prominent tattoo on her neck, and a male elf who’d had metal spikes implanted in his knuckles. Yeah, I saw them that
night. Every minute detail of them is burned into my brain. But they didn’t see me.
Skitz let out a weird sounding whine when as they approached. I could see he was really nervous and jittery, and that was enough to put me
in the same frame of mind. Skitz and I hid under the porch. They entered the house through the back and left the same way a few minutes
later. I didn’t really hear anything while they were inside. After they left I went into the house. Skitz went back to wherever he comes from.
They had murdered my dad, mom and Gabs while they slept. I can now say, in all honesty, that was the most fucked up night of my life.”
Another couple drinks of the whiskey before refilling the glass again.
“I went to stay with my uncle after that on the Duwamish Indian Reservation. My uncle claimed to be part Native American. He was the
whitest damn Indian I ever saw. He was, shall we say, an opportunistic man; but good in his own way. He got me my first job in a nearby
factory. It didn’t take me long to figure out I could make more money in an afternoon of street fighting than working at a factory. As it
turned out, I was pretty damn good at fighting. I started to get a little bit of a reputation with my fights and my uncle got wind of it. Instead
of being mad, he introduced me to the tribal shaman. I spent time with the shaman and he taught me a few tricks that made my fighting
even better. The fights got bigger. So did the money. My uncle, of course, was my manager, bookie and everything else.
After one fight I was approached by a man in a suit who asked me if I’d like to make some real money. When he told me what he meant by
‘real money’, I was in. What followed was my first mission as a Shadowrunner. The money was real good. When I got back I told my uncle
and he had a fit. I mean he was really pissed. The tribe didn’t care for runners, and if I was going to work with ‘those people’, I couldn’t stay
there anymore. He kicked me out. Loyalty is a fickle bitch. There’s only one person in the world you can truly count on: yourself.
I took a bus to downtown Seattle. I hooked up with more Runners. I did more missions. Won some. Lost some. But just kept getting better
and better at kicking ass. Sometimes life was good. Other times I found myself in the slums. That all happened over a span of years, and
here’s the thing; life can only take a dump on you so many times before you just stop giving a fuck. Well, I’m a grown man now, and I don’t
really give a shit about much. Since the night my family was murdered I’ve had an agenda. I’m going find those three people who killed
them, and when I do, I’m gonna end their lives. I’ve managed to quietly gather some information on them these past few years, but not
enough to get a location, but I will. It’s just a matter of time.”
He paused and regarded the glass in his hand with a thoughtful expression on his face as he slowly swirled the contents around in a light
circle. Then he lifted the glass, tossed back the rest of the whiskey, and set the glass down.
“If you’re watching this recording because you followed the clues to find it, that means I’m dead and you’re going to want to take note of
these numbers: 2 2 1 8 1 8 2 9 3 2 9 2 – d3. Figure out the numbers. Find the files. Finish what I started.
I you came to possess this recording by accident, or design, good for you. Better for me. It means I’m still out there somewhere, kickin’ ass.
Don’t worry about finding me.”
Grappler leaned forward toward the camera somewhat to look directly into it.
“I’ll find you.”
His arm was seen moving forward to a point past the camera and a second later the recording ended.