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The Fox and the Hounds
By C. Paul "Granite" Douglas, © 2003

> It seems that Zoe isn't the only one out there that has been digging up information on various people that work the shadows. This file was recently sent to me by a friend of a friend... evidently one of his comrades left an open comm unit in the office one day, and the team was able to overhear this vidphone interview between their fixer, who goes by the moniker "Fox," and some unknown reporter. While some of the interview is disturbing, it is important for those working the shadows to know where they stand when it comes to their fixer. Not all of them are like Fox, but enough are close to make it worth a chummer's time to ask themselves what the fixer is getting out of a deal. The questions aren't important and they can be inferred from the answers Fox delivers so eloquently... What IS important is that Fox is an up-and-coming fixer on the Seattle scene, and has been hiring a lot of local talent lately. If you're operating in Seattle, and don't have a steady team to run with, then Fox is likely to contact you at some point to put together a team...
> Captain Chaos

My name... Well, you can call me "Fox."

What I do is a public service. I take care of things...

Or at least I arrange for things to be taken care of for those people that cannot take care of things for themselves... for whatever reasons... mostly because they have to keep their hands clean. I dirty my hands instead. That is my lot. To go through life with dirtied hands.

Yes, you could call me a Fixer.

> I've worked for Fox many times. Yes, he can be a little "rough around the edges", but he's always played it straight with me. > Chipster

The upside is, what I do is very rewarding... Frag... why would I do this if there were no rewards. Nuyen flows through here like water from the tap. Hot and cold running nuyen. With that comes everything else a fragger could want for: women... rides... chips... whatever a chummer in the shadows desires. And to top that I tread the line a lot more than the poor slots I have running the shadows for me.

What line... Ahhh... the line between the 'corps and the abyss of the streets. I walk in both worlds...

Oh, some of the 'runners try to walk the line... but few can maintain the balance. After all, am I going to pay them enough to become independent? I think not...

As much as I hate to admit it, I need them... sure, they come a dime a dozen... where one is too green or too squeamish to pull a 'run I need handled, there are ten behind that fragger just begging for the chance to make a name for themselves. That is the real pay for the runners... a rep'... I gotta admit, some of the 'runners I've got are good--very good--but when they start getting as good as they are, that also means I gotta save 'em, not put them in harm's way unless I really need them there. Would an ancient Roman senator have put their best gladiators out to fight to the death every time they hit the Coliseum? Frag no! Not if they were smart... you save those you have a real investment in until they are hungry for another kill. Till they can not make it without the next job. Until I really need them. It is a nasty cycle... but that is the world we live in...

Some of the drekheads over do it so much that they are back living in the streets just weeks or days after their last big paying job. They blow their nuyen on all manner of toys. I have known some 'runners that had literally dozens and dozens of weapons, of every imaginable type and size, saved in special hermetically sealed, climate controlled, armored chambers hidden in their doss. And what tools did they take on the runs I gave them? The same old stand-by they had gotten shortly after they started making a life running the shadows. Who am I to complain if they waste their hard earned nuyen on such extravagances? I get a cut of that money most times as well! This is a wonderful business...

> While Fox does have a point, there are also those runners out there like myself that never use the same gun. After a mission is over, the cell phones, p-secs, pistols, and anything else used in the job that is replaceable gets chopped, sliced, diced, put in plastic bags and dropped in a dumpster or the lake. Sure, it adds to the cost of a run to have to purchase new equipment each time, but I've been running the shadows for more years than many of you, and it's because I'm careful - there's no trace back to me! > Fayd

I give it to them and they give it right back...

Well, what I mean by that is, most of these 'runners never had a SIN and if they did have one, it isn't safe for them to use anymore. So, they will come to me looking for some hard to find tidbit or other--and if they don't come to me - well, who do you think supplies the local shops with the exotic bits and pieces that can be found if you know the right whoever about the right whatever?

The best 'runners?

The best ones are the ones you grow from pups yourself. You grow them and mold them into whatever you see their potential to be. Manipulative? You could call it that. This is no kids game... this is deadly serious. Some are bangers or go-gangers, others just urchins and the refuse from the streets. Every now and then, someone that has taken a fall from one of the corps or even the occasional merc. I mold these drekheaded bangers and drop-outs into tools. Some are highly specialized tools. Some are more generic hammer types. But that is what they are: tools. Some Johnson comes to me with a contract,. I look at the contract and at the nuyen that has been negotiated, then I look in my "toolbox" and pick out the right set to get the job done...

> For those runners out there that aren't a member of an established team, approaches such as those Fox uses can actually work to a runner's advantage. If you only know your fellow teammates by reputation, or by working the occasional job with them, you don't have to worry about compromising your safehouse or any little secrets you may have. > Anoni Mouse

Never... I never reveal the true value of a contract to my runners and any fixer worth his chips keeps information of that nature away from his runners. After all, this is a for-profit organization. The more I can squeeze the runners, the more rewarding the run will be for me... Certainly it's fair... Look, do you think that any business that you frequent gives you the actual cost of their product? Of course not... If the slotted drones of our world knew how much the day to day necessities of their pitiful little lives actually cost, even the weakest of them would be rioting in the streets..

After comparing contract and payoff I look in my toolbox and decide what tools will be the most efficient to reach the contracted result.

Sometimes...

What you have to realize is that this work is all about getting your hands dirty and sometimes the Gladiator you send into the Coliseum is meant to die there. Like I said, it is a nasty cycle and the runners are at the bottom of the food chain. It all has to do with what the movers in the hierarchy of the 'corps need. Sometimes it is a sacrifice--sometimes it is more to the advantage of the runners. I have my own considerations as well and sometimes they are to the advantage of the runners and sometimes not... Then, of course, the runners have their own considerations. But that is none of my concern.

> What a swell guy! I thought fixers were supposed to watch over their runners!!? > Ignor Aunt

> Fixers are not meant to be your mothers or nursemaids... everyone should be aware of the fact that when it comes down to the wire, most people look out for Number One. As long as you know that, and how the person you're dealing with will react, then you can expect when you are getting the shaft, and prepare accordingly. The job still has to get done, or you loose your reputation, but at least you can prepare for the worst. > Socio Pat

So I look into my toolbox; pick and choose the proper tools for the job at hand; and then off I send them to fix whatever problem I have been presented with. Sometimes the tools end up feeling a bit misused. That matters little. In the end, they need me even more than I need them and they are well aware that they can be replaced at a moments notice.

Most often what is needed is the one thing most runners are least capable of delivering: Invisibility.

No. I am not talking about the mystical kind. I mean the professional kind. I mean a run that is completely undetectable. The perfect run is the one when the target never knows that they were the subject of interest by anyone other than their own stock holders. There are precious few runners out there that truly comprehend this simple concept.

*chirp*

You will have to excuse me, I have a business call on my other line. No rest for the weary...

Goodbye!

*click*

Hello... Mr. Johnson I presume. Yes, sir and how may I be of service today?



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