Dusty's Background for Shadowrun Denver
his hands with which he was covering his face. His long, slim fingers came in
to focus then, another example of his elven heritage. Looking around his small
apartment in the Denver FTZ, Dusty shook his head sadly.
It was night, and rain was pouring down outside, the scamper of rain upon the
roof a small echo of the headache throbbing in his temples. The bottle of
whiskey and aspirin reminded him of his current favourite headache treatment.
The white cowboy hat on the table reminded him of his day job.
Dusty was sitting on a soft sofa, the only nice piece of furniture in the
three-room apartment. His bedroom was scarce, containing little more than his
bed, and a night table. There was a safe in the corner, where he kept the
tools of his trade and a few other important things like his real SIN. The
kitchen barely counted as a room, as it adjoined the "living" room, but the
landlord counted it, so Dusty would too. The sink was full of dishes- the
cupboards bare. The living room was a little more than a few crummy chairs and
the one nice sofa, courtesy of leftover money from Dusty's last (successful)
run. All three faced the wall trid, probably the most evident example of the
era in which Dusty lived, aside from his body, so chock full of metal he dared
not enter an airport.
Which brought Dusty back to the question he'd been asking himself all night.
All these last few years, for that matter. Who? How? What now? And most
importantly and with the least answer, Why? Why? Why? Well into the bottle of
whiskey now, Dusty's mind, usually a bastion of orderly thought and
information processing, drifted.
It was 2045. Dustin was 10. He had lived in the newly formed Tir Tairngire all
his life with his parents: Tassilo and Hikaru. Tassilo was a rich elven
businessman who had moved into Tir to take advantage of business
opportunities. Hikaru was married to him as the result of an almost arranged
marriage. Still, she was a good person, and kind, and took good care of Dusty.
Actually, she doted on him, much more so than she had his older brother
Robert. Dusty had been born the same year Tir Tairngire was formed, so he was
their "lucky child." His parents had always thought him was special, but when
school tests began showing the height of his intellect they knew it. He was a
fairly weak child- it was obvious his strengths lay elsewhere. When
prestigious elven boarding schools began to approach them about raising Dustin
with the best education known to elvenkind, they were overjoyed. Well, HIKARU
was more happy than Tassilo- his interests lay more in the almighty Nuyen. But
still, they were glad to "do the best they could" for their young son, and
soon they had sent him off to one of them.
Dusty couldn't remember the name of the place, but he did remember the time he
spent there. Enjoyable enough, though some of the tests were a little trying.
There was plenty of time to run around and play with others his own age, as
well as learn about the history of Tir, the megacorps, and all the other
things that were life in the 2040's. Even Carromeleg, the graceful elven
martial art was on the list of subjects (along with more mundane subjects,
such as Matrix studies) for the young students. Sperethiel lessons were
It was only a few years later, in 2048, that disaster struck young Dustin's
world. It started innocently enough at first- a new teacher, a human from the
UCAS named Mr. Smith came to the school on an exchange program. He was to
start a class for the especially gifted. Dustin had been excited to find
himself on the list for the new class. At least until the weird experiments
started. Dustin didn't know it at the time (he only heard the rumours about
kids having seizures and heart attacks) and had only found the new "play time"
complete with electrodes and wires slightly annoying and less fun than tag
with his friends.
Then there was the night that the men in dark clothing with little guns that
spat fire and bullets came to visit, bringing their payload of death and
destruction. Dustin's memories of that night were horrible- bodies, some of
his friends, flung about, others pierced by multiple rounds. Still others
burnt alive. Then the weeks spent within a small metal room by himself. And
the needles and tubes and experiments. Dustin never understood what they, or
the original school wanted, but he understood that when they held him for
hostage from his rich father, his father and mother drove to the drop
themselves. And picked him up, as promised.
He would never understand the cosmic irony of the street punks who attacked
them on the way home and killed his parents. It was a political thing
apparently, but whatever.
The question of where to go next was raised among those dealing with elven boys
orphaned at a young age. Fortunately, Dustin's father's brother would step
forward and volunteer for the task. He lived in Seattle, so the Tir
authorities weren't extremely happy to send him off, but it was better, they
deemed, to have him live with a relative than with a foster family. From then
on, Dustin was raised by his human uncle, who took care of both boys. More
martial lessons ensued from the uncle, an expert in a number of arts,
including Carromeleg and the katana. Though his uncle felt little sympathy for
Tir's goals and ideals, he would hide any trace of racism or bitterness around
the boys. A good man, was Dustin's uncle, and possible a physical adept as
It was there in Seattle that Dustin would turn rebellious and hit the streets
for nights at a time, running with a pack of quasi-ganger wannabe punks. (Sort
of like the kind that killed his parents, but not, right? Right?) All the new
vices were available, including BTLs which were, usually, cheap and clean. It
was a time that Dusty could still not entirely recall.
It was in the those streets and subway tunnels and sewers and underground
places of Seattle that Dustin was eventually hooked up with a few "jobs" that
he would do for a few 100nY, or even a couple grand. Things like cause trouble
for a family not paying rent in the bad part of town, or stealing a certain
car. Or whack a certain family returning from out of town. Oh wait...
Dustin lost himself and his purpose during that time, but he picked up a new
set of skills and a bit of metal along the way. In fact, it was the thrill of
doing jobs that would eventually cause him to stop the small stuff. Compared
to the thrill of the run, the anticipation of bullets whistling past one's
body, the haggling with the Johnson, the threat of failure- compared to that,
the cheap thrills of drinking and drugs paled.
Seattle was a big hit, and it was runs he did there that would make his rep,
pay for his gear, and earn a few good enemies. It was there too, that he got
his new SIN, with his "new" name to go with his new lifestyle. Dustin "Dusty"
Rhodes. Yeah. Just another name, another number. Another chummer stuffed full
of metal that made him faster, better, tougher than Joe Average on the
streets. More likely, and less likely to catch a bullet.
The Dusty of the present shook his head and reached for the whiskey, upending
the bottle into his mouth. The hard punch of the alcohol stirred him up again.
He slammed his hand down on the table, hard, and it cracked a little under the
force. Oops. There was still more wasn't there. A reason he dressed the way he
did. A reason he acted the way he did. Bitterness rose with the next thought,
as an image bloomed in his mind. Oh yeah...
It was on one beautiful August day, unusual for Seattle but no less welcome,
that Dustin's work cell rang. It was his fixer, his main man in the
job-getting business. There was a job for him, a mission should he choose to
accept it. At a certain installation a certain group was keeping a certain
hostage. They were two-bit players, explained the fixer, only a bunch of
gangers waaaaay out of their league. They might have pistols, but that'd be
about it, he explained- he knew their type. All Dustin had to do was wetwork
their tails and get the girl. The people who offered the job insisted. No
problem, said Dustin with a grin and a side order of derision, I can off a
bunch of gutter-punks.
It went off pretty much that easy. Dustin did a few hours of surveillance and
made sure the punks didn't have anything too heavy up in their apartment
hideout. No machine gun installed behind boarded windows or anything. Then
when they ordered out for fast food... well, let's just say they should've
gone with Pizza Commandos, because the min-wage, part-time, college student
gave up the food two seconds after having the pistol barrel shoved into his
neck while he was walking away from his car toward the apartment. Dustin
brought it on up, rapped on the door with the hilt of his pistol and shot the
first guy who opened it in the face. Then he activated his wired reflexes-
grade A gear if ever there was some, and did in the rest of them.
He found the girl in the bedroom, tied to the bed. Looking back, he couldn't
understand exactly what it was about her, but he fell instantly in love. She
was the daughter of a triad boss, whom the gangers had kidnapped for some
quick cash. Bad move on their part as it turned out- they all got post-humous
idiot awards. Strangely, for reasons beyond Dustin's ability to fathom, she
reciprocated the emotion. They ditched they joint and spent some time on their
own- the job didn't have to be done for a couple more days. She brought out
some things in Dustin that he didn't understand. Something to care about
besides himself; someone that made him think about the future beyond this
weekend. They would talk about why Dustin ran the shadows- why he enjoyed it
so much. She was understandably unable to understand, but she was accepting.
She compared him to the trid flicks she'd seen of 20th century westerns, where
the good cowboy would withstand many oppressors and overcome at the last,
though that didn't stop them for drinking in the saloon or getting the woman
at the end. The birth of the anti-hero, if you will. Dustin found that
interesting. Ideals mixed with running? How, like, quaint. After one
particular passionate exchange, Dustin swore that's how he'd live- with the
integrity and values they'd discussed; the ones those cowboys had back in
those corny 2D flicks.
Then there was the scene on the way back to her father's with the dark limo and
the chinese men in dark suits with shotguns and the troll with a machine gun.
Dusty still remembered that quite well- it seemed to occur in slow motion. As
Li hung onto Dustin from the back seat, he brought his Harley Scorpion to a
sideways skidding stop in front of the limo that came to a halt blocking the
street. Out came the men, bracing (and hiding) themselves behind their car
doors- all except for the troll that unfolded himself from the back seat and
brought a machine gun to bear. Dustin dove from his bike for cover on the side
of the street, shouting for all he was worth for Li to do the same. Strangely,
the troll next brought the machine gun to bear around Dustin's position,
suppressing his movements and keeping him pinned down.
Meanwhile, two men would walk towards Li and extricate her from the dumped
bike. They would stand her up and face her while Dustin watched in amazement.
Who were these men? They were Chinese, like her- were they here to save her
from him? Did they think he had kidnapped her? But then one drew a long knife
and, staring her in the eyes and holding the back of her neck, slit her throat
with a single cut. They let her crumple to the ground and bleed to death from
the cut, unable to cry or speak or do anything besides pour crimson life onto
the street. They placed a single black rose on her body beside a business card
and turned and left her. Then the Dustin Rhodes beat-down contest began
between the troll and the Chinese men.
With a shake of his head, Dusty brought himself back to the present. The men in
the limo had been an opposing triad that Li's father had ticked off. They
killed his daughter to send him a message, and left Dustin for dead for the
fun of it. It may have been luck or fate or sheer capriciousness (or maybe the
slew of protective cyber in his body), but Dustin lived to crawl to his
new/old lover and cry over her body. And then to mount his bike and slowly
ride back to his place. He left town the next day. He didn't need to be on
Li's father's wanted list all the rest of his life. Why Denver? It was a
little closer to the sort of place where those cowboy flicks had been filmed
those years ago. That, and it boasted a free trade zone and shadowrunner
action to rival Seattle. A man could do well for himself here. Right?
Background Copyright 2001 by Dusty's Player. Used with permission.
|This page Copyright ©2001 by Joel E. Ricketts and Craig G. Rickel. All Rights Reserved. Some information and content Copyright ©1999 by FASA Corporation and/or Wizkids, LLC, and its use or reference here is not intended as any sort of challenge to those Copyrights. Shadowrun is a Registered Trademark of FASA Corporation.|