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5367: Lone Wolf
Aaah, good. The old sarcastic wit of Findley's first book is back. New character, though. This one is Wolf, an undercover officer in one of Seattle's many gangs. He reports back to his superiors of a major event going down, and sudden;y finds himself unsupported by his agency and revealed to his gand as a cop. Hence the title. Wolf sudden;y needs to find a safe way in from the cold he found himself.
Machiavellian machinations, gunplay, chases, trickery, and corrupt motives are all present in quantity in this one, making most of a the book an action romp. It's a lot of fun to read, the only real complaint being that it tells very little about the setting itself. In the larger picture, it can be utterly forgotten. But it shouldn't be.
Rich Larson is an undercover Lone Star operative caught in the middle of a conspiracy. He's about to blow his deep cover in an explosively violent street gang and his "friends" at the agency have hung him out to dry, leaving him with only one option…payback.
Nigel Findley (1994)
Rick Larson is a cop undercover inside a ruthless gang, who suddenly finds himself put out of sanction by both the bloodthirsty Cutters and his employer, Lone Star Security. In order to survive long enough to discover the grim truth behind his sudden reversal of fortune, Larson is forced to become something he despises -- a shadowrunner.
Worth a 4 on the Shadowrun book scale of 1-5.
Seattle, 2054. Rick Larson is a Lone Star cop deep under cover inside the Cutters, an international gang on the verge of becoming a major syndicate. It's a dangerous and demanding job, but one at which he excels. In spite of lethal gang politics and the personal enmity of the Cutters' war boss, Larson is able to insinuate himself ever deeper into the councils and confidence of the core leadership.
It comes to a screeching halt when Larson is "made" by Mr. Nemo, a corp executive cutting a deal with the Cutters. The corp negotiator is a face from Larson's past that he can't quite place. Larson narrowly escapes an assassination attempt by a Cutters hit team. When he tries to "come into the light," his Lone Star superiors stall him.
Larson does a little digging, and learns that he's being investigated by an unknown elven corporation, very likely the same corp that was in negotiations with the Cutters, whose human representative, Nemo, must have identified him and blown his cover. He begins to suspect that the unidentified corp has penetrated Lone Star itself, thus the reason for their hesitation in bringing him in.
When Larson is finally able to arrange a rendezvous with his Lone Star handlers, it becomes an ambush laid by a Lone Star Fast Response Team. Again, he narrowly escapes with his life. Now apparently put "out of sanction" by both the Cutters and Lone Star, Larson has nowhere left to turn.
Larson hides out in an elven slum at the extreme outskirts of the Seattle Metroplex. He does a little more digging and comes up with a name for the mysterious corp that's been dogging his heels: Telestrian Industrial Corporation (TIC), a powerful multinational. Unfortunately, the elves are able to trace his inquiries back to him, and he finds himself taking an unexpected meeting with Lynne Telestrian, a highly placed figure in the TIC corporate hierarchy.
A bitter corporate battle is being fought between two factions of TIC, with its founder and president James Telestrian III on one side and his estranged son, Timothy Telestrian on the other. Lynne informs Larson that it was Timothy's deal with the Cutters that led to his present difficulties.
After much agonizing, Larson turns to a shadowrunner for help. Argent, a seasoned professional recommended to him by Lynne Telestrian herself. With the help of Argent and his colleague, the decker Peg, Larson is able to put together the big picture of the Telestrian corporate infighting, but the connection to the Cutters and the identity of Mr. Nemo, the man responsible for blowing his cover, continue to escape him.
At an impasse, Larson decides to check out the Cutter's current activities, only to find that the entire gang seems to have shut down overnight. He discovers a friend deathly ill at a Cutters safehouse, and takes him to a street doc who diagnoses him as the victim of a genetically engineered retrovirus. Larson and Argent deduce that the Cutters are the victim of a biological warfare field test by one of Timothy Telestrian's corporate holdings. During their subsequent research, they discover the identity of the elusive Mr. Nemo -- Gerard Schrage, executive vice president of Lone Star Seattle's new Military Liaison Division. Timothy Telestrian and Gerard Schrage are in business together; their deal for the biological weapon will give Tim much-needed capital for his bid to take over TIC, and Gerard a marketable weapon he can sell to his consumers -- fascist governments and terrorist policlubs.
Larson and Argent take their evidence and their deductions to Lynne Telestrian and insist that she act upon them. Lynne plans a paramilitary raid on the Telestrian bioweapons lab, and insists that Larson participate -- thus giving each party leverage against the other, while ensuring that each of their goals are met. Lynne denies Timothy his deal, Larson exposes Gerard and gets his life back.
Argent and Larson lead the raid, which is a success. Gerard is killed, and the bioweapon is destroyed.
Sickened by Lone Star's corporate complicity in the whole business, Larson refuses offers of commendation and promotion and quits.
Rick Larson (aka. Wolf): a skilled and experienced deep-cover operative for Lone Star Security Services, Larson has been working inside the Cutters for eighteen months. He was transferred to Lone Star Seattle from Milwaukee, where he also attended basic training. Larson was born in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where he learned to drive motorboats, jet skis, and similar watercraft. Larson is large for a human, over 2 meters (6'7"). He has a skillwire system, chipjack, and smartlink, and regularly employs skillsofts for submachine guns and escrimar, a Philippine martial art specialized in the use of a baton. Larson is afraid of flying.
Argent: A veteran shadowrunner born and bred in the Seattle Metroplex, Argent is famous in the shadows for his reliability, competence, and scruples. Money is never enough reason for Argent to accept an assignment, there must always be a higher reason for him to involve himself. A large man, Argent has two matte-black cyberarms (voluntary replacements), cybereyes, and wired reflexes. He fought in the Desert Wars, and received training as a paratrooper.
in order of their appearance:
- Rick Larson (Wolf): Lone Star undercover operative inside the Cutters
- Fraser*: ork Cutter, skinny chiphead with dredlocks
- Piers*: Cutter
- Lucas: Cutter
- Paco*: Cutter, loyal
- En*: Cutter, methamphetimine abuser
- Box: Cutter, troll, personal bodyguard to Blake, Combat Bike enthusiast
- Katrina: Cutter, rigger
- Ranger*: Cutters' war boss
- Vladimir: Cutters lieutenant, bloodthirsty, vicious
- Springblossom: Cutters lieutenant, Deer shaman
- Blake: leader of the Cutters in Seattle, sophisticated black human
- Musen: Cutters' accountant
- Fahd: Cutters' business developer
- Cain: Cutter, ex-shadowrunner
- Catherine Ashburton (Cat)*: data technician for Lone Star's Organized Crime division, "pneumatic redhead"
- Big Bad Bart*: ork Cutter, overweight, protégé of Ranger
- Kirsten: Cutter, "tough little biff," hitter for Ranger
- Jaz: Cutter, typical muscle -- big and dumb
- Marla*: Cutter, snake shaman
- Doink: ork Cutter, musclebound
- Sydney: female Cutter, favors a grenade launcher
- Fortunado: Cutter
- Jack (the Hammer): Cutter
- Zig: dwarf Cutter, uses a Remmington Roomsweeper
- Bubba: ork Cutter, new war boss, a "red-necked Georgia cracker" from Atlanta
- Gerard Schrage (Mr. Nemo)*: human, exec veep of Lone Star Seattle's Military Liaison Division
- Nicholas Finnigan: author of espionage thrillers, fifty-ish, dignified, overweight and balding
- Pietr Taleniekov: elf, exec for Lightbringer Services Corporation
- Sarah Layton*: senior manager in Lone Star's Organized Crime (Gangs) division
- Vince McMartin*: Lone Star exec
- Marcus Drummond (the White Flash)*: Lone Star exec, on the fast track
- Marilyn Schultz: Governor of the Seattle Metroplex
- Lynne Telestrian: elf, president of Novalis Optical Technologies, a major TIC subsidiary
- Timothy Telestrian: elf, age 30, president of BioLogic Technologies, a TIC subsidiary
- Argent: legendary shadowrunner, famous for his two cyberarms and military precision
- Jean Trudel: owner of the Hole in the Wall, "crabby old cow of an ork woman"
- Peg: decker who works with Argent, quadriplegic in a San Francisco clinic
- James Telestrian III: elf, spike baby born 1999, president & CEO of TIC, father of Timothy
- Dr. Mary Dacia (Doc Dicer): street doc, downtown Seattle
- David Margeson: elf, president and CEO of Nova Vita Cybernetics, a TIC subsidiary
- Raven: elf rigger, shorter and chubbier than normal for her metatype
- Alphonse Baker: official in the Seattle Metroplex government, close to Gov. Schultz
- William Loudon: Chief of Police, head of Lone Star Security Services' Seattle division
- these characters are dead by the end of the novel.
- small Cutters warehouse east of Lake Meridian (144th Ave SE)
- Cutters safehouse in Ravenna (36th Ave NE, 1 block from Calvary Cemetery)
- Cutters large safehouse (South 164th St, near Sea-Tac Int'l Airport)
- Coffee Bon, japanese kissaten coffee house (5th and Pike, across from Yamatetsu HQ)
- Wenonah apartments, Ravenna (Northeast 16th Street)
- Eighty-Eights warehouse on Hyundai Pier (across Marginal Way from Pier 42)
- Lone Star HQ (pyramidal building, 2nd and Union): Seattle, p.44; New Seattle, p.37
- Montlake Bridge (Lake Washington Ship Canal between U Dub and Montlake)
- Charles Royer Building / Metroplex Hall (Fourth and Seneca): Seattle, p.42; New Seattle, p.122
- Tarislar, elven slum (between Kreger Lake and Harts Lake): Seattle, p.139; New Seattle, p.71.
- The Promise, flop house in Tarislar
- Fi nes Que t, health spa in Tarislar with a broken neon sign
- Hole in the Wall, tavern (Maple Valley Road and Jones Road): New Seattle, p.127
- Nova Vita Cybernetics, research complex (on SSC side of Columbia river, at Pillar Rock)
Points of Interest
Nigel Findley was the author of a number of Shadowrun books. He wrote the novels 2XS (1991), Shadowplay (1993), Lone Wolf (1994), and House of the Sun (1995). He also wrote a dozen sourcebooks: Paranormal Animals of North America (1990), The Universal Brotherhood (1990), Native American Nations 1 (1991), Native American Nations 2 (1991), Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life (1992), One Stage Before (1992), Tir Tairngire (1993), Corporate Shadowfiles (1993), Lone Star (1994), Paradise Lost (1994), Double Exposure (1994), and Aztlan (1995). Nigel passed away in 1995.
The Cutters are profiled in the Underworld Sourcebook, p.103; and New Seattle, p.107. The Cutters are a first-tier gang, roughly equal to the Ancients in size and influence at the beginning of this novel.
As in previous books, Nigel displays an intimate familiarity with the Seattle area.
Rick Larson appears a few times in the Lone Star sourcebook (Nigel Findley, 1994), under the street name Wolf. Larson/Wolf is fond of Soviet vocabulary -- he makes regular use of the Russian words priyatel (friend, buddy) and bolshoi (big, huge). Larson also makes a cameo appearance in the novel, House of the Sun (Nigel Findley, 1995).
Argent's opinions appear frequently in shadowrun sourcebooks, particularly those written by Nigel Findley. He is also a minor character in 2XS and Shadowplay, and the main character of Run Hard, Die Fast (Mel Odom, 1999).
p.9: The Cutters originated as a Los Angeles street gang in the 1970s.
p.27: "For a moment Blake reminds me of sims I've seen of lions in the wild, before they all died out." Wild lions are extinct, apparently. Or at least, Larson believes they are.
p.30: first mention of the Eighty Eights, a Chinese triad later described on p.50 of the Mob War campaign book (Steve Kenson, 1997). The Eighty Eights are affiliated with the Tigers street gang (described on p.50 of Mob War and p.103 of New Seattle; first appeared on p.250 of Into the Shadows -- It's all done with mirrors). The Tigers are the third largest gang in Seattle after the Ancients and the Cutters, which undoubtedly contributes to the Cutters' rivalry with the Eighty Eights.
p.31: Real coffee -- not soykaf -- runs about fifteen nuyen a cup in downtown Seattle. Natural foods (as opposed to soy-based, vat-grown, or synthetic) are hideously expensive in the Shadowrun era.
p.31: Unsubtle plug for America Online. "I spend at least some time every day logging onto UCAS Online, this big public bulletin board service on the Matrix. ... UOL has a drekload of chill features, but the big selling point's the massive message base. Lots of slags from all over the continent -- even some from Europe sometimes -- log on to connect with special interest groups or real-time online free-for-alls about anything and everything." Sound familiar?
p.41: One of the most obnoxious trog-rock bands is Darwin's Bastards. Among their hits are Scrag 'em All, Bloody Day Coming, and a cover of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. The band is mentioned on page 17 of Shadowbeat (Paul Hume, 1992).
p.59: "She's tall -- probably more than two meters in bare feet -- about as tall as me." That would make them around 6'7" tall. Larson's a big guy. Other than this single observation, though, Nigel never remarks on his protagonist's unusual size. Makes me wonder whether he got the math right.
p.85: Findley describes an anachronistic author named Nicholas Finnigan. Nicholas Finnigan = Nigel Findley? Is he casting himself as a minor character in his own book?
p.101: "I key in 114 for directory assistance, then when the synthesized voice starts yammering, I enter the 'special function' code known to all Lone Star employees (and to most of Seattle's shadow community as well). With 'special functions' engaged, the directory search engine looks through more useful files than just the standard name-LTG-address drek 114 usually gives you."
p.108, 124: Cat Ashburton's search routines assemble a list of Tir corps with licensed security forces in Seattle but no official commercial presence -- Crystalite Environmental Research Corporation, Griffin Technologies Incorporated, Telestrian Industries Corporation, Margaux Enterprises, and Starbright Advanced Synergetics. TIC is described in the Tir Tairngire sourcebook (p.78), the others are not.
p.112: "Sometimes I think I'd have been better off born in the Dark Ages, like back in 1994 or some drek." This book was published in 1994. Funny.
p.117: Extended description of Tarislar.
p.118: a little Sperethial vocabulary: celénit, "unevolved monkey-man". A bit different from the glossary on page 67 of the Tir Tairngire sourcebook (Nigel Findley, 1993): "celé n. A non-elf homo sapiens. celénit n. Insulting form of celé."
p.130: Finnigan describes Shadowland to Larson. "Shadowland is a BBS, with no fixed geographical location. The server hubs and nodes that make up the network 'float', like illegal crap games. Rarely are they in the same place for more than a week at a time. So, too, the access lines -- the LTG numbers and communication protocols -- are highly variable." Interesting to note that Larson, an experienced professional undercover agent for Lone Star, has never heard of it. Apparently, its existence is not widely known outside the hard-core shadow community. Not in 2054, at least.
p.131: Larson has a fairly critical opinion of Shadowrunners: "Too many people -- especially in Seattle, I've found -- seem to put shadowrunners up on some kind of pedestal, viewing them as fragging 'heroes of the underdog' or some such drek. ... Me, I think they're scum -- mercenary street drek, no more heroic than the guttermeat informers and stoolies and rats I spent too much time dealing with in Milwaukee. They'd sell out their mothers for a few nuyen, and the only reason they wouldn't do the same for their fathers is that they generally don't know who their fathers are." He reiterates this opinion a few times prior to his meeting with Argent, who shatters his preconceptions.
p.152: "To a cop's mind all people can be lumped into three simple categories: cops, civilians, and scumbags. ... the 'civilian' classification tends to drift a bit. When a cadet first leaves the Academy, all fired up and eager, naive and green, he might tend to rate civilians as right up there, almost as admirable and worthy of attention as cops. That doesn't last long, though, and soon civilians drop way down the scale to rest only a few notches above scumbags."
p.171: Argent says, "James Telestrian was a 'spike baby,' born before the Awakening. Rare, but it happens. James is fifty-five, born in 1999, according to Peg's research. Makes him probably the oldest elf in the world." Not quite. Does raise the question of whether James Telestrian is a genuine spike baby or an Immortal. I tend to think spike baby, personally, if for no other reason than I'd like to see the number of Immortal Elves in the world kept under an even dozen.
p.172: The corporate maneuvering between Lynne and Timothy Telestrian is mentioned on page 78 of the Tir Tairngire sourcebook.
p.179: "I scan the bands for some music hot enough to blow the cobwebs out of my brains. Classic Mercurial, maybe, or the latest by Marli Bremerton and the Shadows." References to the published adventures Mercurial (Paul Hume, 1989) and One Stage Before (Nigel Findley, 1992), respectively.
p.179: And now the News:
"Among the NAN states, Salish-Sidhe and Tsimshian are still slagging each other off in council meetings, and threatening war over some new resource-allocation scheme. Pueblo doesn't like Ute now, while Sioux -- the old enemy -- seems to be the flavor of the week. In Europe, the Serbs and the Croats are at it again, and everybody still hates the Israelis. Three universities are holding celebrations of the one-hundredth anniversary of some slag named Tolkien publishing the first book in some trilogy or other, and an Atlanta Neo-Anarchist group wants to declare a 'Day of Shame' about the activities of someone called McCarthy, also from a fragging century ago. (Get with the present, will you?) The biz news boils down to the megacorps still giving it to the consumer up the hoop."
p.189: Doc Dicer knew Argent before he had his arms replaced.
p.212: Fewer than 5% of the employees of Telestrian Industries Corporation are human.
p.214-220: Larson and Argent discuss Lone Star's Military Liaison division. Their observations are summarized on pages 24-25 of the Lone Star sourcebook as "runners' comments" by Argent and Wolf.
p.217: "A standard UCAS light infantry squad is ten rifleman and a sergeant -- eleven guns, and one of them a mage. ... Assault rifles all around, probably with all the toys including grenade launchers. Depending on the mission, maybe one or two are packing assault cannons, and there's always one slag humping along a heavy machine gun or maybe a fragging minigun if they're feeling really militant." A platoon is "four squads, with a combat mage for astral support."
p.221: Argent summarizes the intertribal squabbles in the Tsimshian nation, detailed in Native American Nations, Vol. 2 (Nigel Findley, 1991), and the subject of that sourcebook's adventure scenario, Eye of the Eagle.
p.224: The grand prize for least-accurate interior illustration goes to this one. Raven's aircraft is described as a McDonnell-Douglas Merlin V/STOL tilt-wing turboprop, where one pictured looks like an effing passenger plane. NVC launches a single Ares Type Four self-guided missile at them, which loses its radar lock and augers into the ground, not the two rockets shown passing the jumbo jet in the picture. Feh. Sloppy artists bug me. Did Joel Biske even read the book, or was he just asked to draw a picture of missiles missing a plane?
p.255: Argent says, "I can trust my chummers. Like Peg, and Jean, and Sly, and Dirk ... And there are the ones I used to trust before I lost them -- Hawk, and Toshi, and Agarwal. Not many, Wolf, but some. Shadowrunners don't have many friends, that's true. But we cling to the ones we've got." Peg and Jean appear in this book. Dirk Montgomery, Hawk, and Toshi worked with Argent in 2XS. Sharon Louise Young (Sly) and Agarwal appeared in Shadowplay.
p.260: The strike force uses mortar-launched combination chaff/smoke shells. The smoke is composed of "living microscopic blue-green algae cells in a water suspension. The cloud of dispersing water droplets makes it fragging difficult to see clearly, and the fact that there are living organisms in those droplets extends the effect to magical sight too."
p.279: This is the scene nominally depicted in the cover picture by Romas Kukalis. Except that Larson is wearing combat armor, and the Samuvani-Criscraft Otter is only disabled, not blown in half and hurled twenty meters into the air. I'm not even gonna talk about the Watersport. I've got no objection to artistic license, but it can be carried too far. Sigh.
The biological warfare agent decimates the Cutters in Seattle. Though they remain a first-tier gang abroad, they are all but extinct in Seattle for years. Even in 2058, four years later, they are still 75% under their previous strength. It's core leadership survives, however, including Blake, Springblossom, and Vladimir (according to the gang profile in the Underworld Sourcebook).