// 2021-03-08 // by Neon

The Dreamer


For International Women's Day today, I'm pulling out something special. I wrote this excerpt years ago as the narrativisation of a tabletop roleplaying session that truly touched my heart. The events in this story all happened impromptu without much real input from myself, so the seamlessness of it swept my emotions away and let me channel those feelings to writing in a way that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to match again. Funny enough, my online handle today is the namesake of the character I played, even— hers is the story of of a powerful and compassionate woman who I'd hope to be even half as cool as someday.

Art for this story was painted by a friend who is not just an amazing artist, but also was intimately familiar with this story when it happened. She's got a way of making the emotions really radiate out of her work, and I'm grateful for her collaboration.

I hope that this short drama finds its way into your heart as it did my own.

Yours truly,
(The other) Neon

A shining star in the darkness, some glimpses of the light are lost into eternity, only to be known by the gods themselves...



Routine system diagnostic completed. All systems nominal.

Sensors indicate heart rate and temperature increase from Neon's current state. She is returning to wakefulness. Engaging interactivity subroutines...

A warm smile is visible on the face of a relaxed woman, as her eyes sleepily flick open and turns her head toward the camera now looking at her.

"Good morning, Neon. Would you like your usual morning soykaf?"

Static fills the visual display as data corruption causes the scene to degrade into white noise.

Arrival at intended destination.

Clink, kachink...

The view shifts to look at the person sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle beside the viewer. The woman previously identified as Neon racks a semi-automatic pistol, looking to check for a round in the chamber before awkwardly shuffling around in her seat to tuck the weapon into a concealed carry holster at her hip.

Neon looks toward the camera and delicately adjusts her hair by brushing a blue lock of out of her face. She gives a nervous half-smile at the stoic android seated beside her. "I dunno, something feels off about this job. What do you think, Dream?"

Several seconds pass with no reply. The digital silence is deafening.

The woman sighs and feigns an awkward chuckle.

"I know, I know, that kind of question is outside of the scope of your programming, and I must be fragged for talking to my droid as if she's a person. But sometimes, I just look at you and think..."

Her voice trails off and her longing eyes look away from the camera, gazing at the raindrops gently rolling down the windscreen. For but a moment, the sky's tears were her own.

She opens the door and steps outside into the night, looking back at the camera just before getting out of the car. "Well, it doesn't matter what I think. Watch my back, Dream. You always do."

A rogue stream of unsigned data interrupts the log playback; the system clock fails to resolve a timestamp for the recording.

Tactile sensors flare up out of the sensory static, and the warm, slow, rhythmic heat of Neon's faint breath is felt on the android's facial sensors. More tactile sensations become coherent as the feeling of a comfortable arm wraps around the side of Dream's cold and lifeless plastic outer-body.

Faintly, the outline of a sleeping woman's face comes into focus, laying right beside the android.


Artefacts rapidly fill the visual feed, corrupting the tender moment into an erratic mess. The sensory reconstruction abruptly falls to a halt as the system reboots from a segmentation fault, and the divergent record disappears into the electronic maelstrom to be irretrievably lost in the binary aether.

Three individuals, Neon included, crouch upon a moonlit museum rooftop at a skylight window above the target: a mystical relic of a time long past.

Initiating maglock slice subroutine... Done.

"Window locking mechanism is free. Approach team clear for infiltration."

The camera stands watch as the individual shadowrunners rappel down into the museum together, and an alarm blares from the building's security system. A mechanical whir echoes through the spacious museum interior. Spidery security drones skitter out of maintenance shafts along the interior walls of the building while the team does a smash and grab on the goods.

"Dream, drones! Knock 'em out!"

"I am on it, Neon."

Targeting information covers the camera HUD and the android raises a sniper scope to one eye. The android holds the immense rifle steady in its iron grip while expertly pivoting between firing successive rounds upon several security drones that have closed in on the outnumbered team below. Several shots land, and individual drones crumple to the hail of anti-material rounds from Dream's sniper, but for every drone that is downed, another comes to fill its place.

A bright red alert flashes in the corner of the visual HUD. RADIO INTERCEPT: WARNING - CORPSEC RESPONSE INBOUND

A distinct calm amidst the storm radiates through the steely-eyed android's sensory logs as it continues to lay down covering fire from the rooftop window. Within sixty seconds, the runners below begin to climb their way back up to the skylight from whence they entered. Electronic stun rounds whistle past the camera as the security drones shift their fire toward Dream's position on the rooftop window ledge.

Neon's voice resonates through the neural interface radio. "We got the goods. Time to delta the fuck out of here, Dream."

One by one the runners scramble up through the gaping skylight and turn to support their comrades. Neon is the last one to climb out, and Dream lets off a couple indirect rounds of one-handed cover fire while using her other arm to grab Neon's hand and pull her up the final stretch in one swift and powerful motion. Overwhelmed by the unforeseen heavy security response, the frenzied group of individuals break into a mad dash to escape the perimeter.

Operation successful. Exfiltration in progress. Escape route is hot. Defence protocols engaged to provide assistance as necessary.

The camera shakes wildly as the droid leaps off the rooftop, lands on gritty sidewalk pavement, and bounds into a sprint through the wide grassy courtyard. System software indicates that the getaway vehicle is present just beyond a wall encompassing the exterior museum grounds.

The camera looks around over its shoulder, pausing to turn about and shoot off several rounds of cover fire at the drones on the rooftop to protect the rest of the team climbing down from a rooftop ladder leading down the side to the courtyard.

As the team of runners catches up to the android, the camera zooms to direct its attention toward that characteristic warm smile on Neon's face looking upon her.

Then, in an instant, everything above Neon's neck vaporises into a red mist, her head exploded into a grotesque bloody pulp from a well-placed rifle round from a corporate security sniper in a helicopter flying overhead.

Critical mission failure. Error compensation failure. Further instructions unclear.

Another shot crackles through the midnight sky and clears straight through the android's chest. System integrity alerts fill the HUD of the display.

Awaiting further advisory from Neon...



As the team of runners catches up to the android, the camera zooms to direct its attention toward that characteristic warm smile on Neon's face looking upon her.

Her warm smile is still there, alive and strong. She lets out a yelp as a bullet grazer her arm, but keeps running toward Dream, who motions to keep running. The android kneels and lays down covering fire onto an unforeseen corporate security garrison now emerging from the building, waiting for Neon to catch up before running any further.

As Neon approaches to arms-length, her complexion goes pale and her face twists into an unforgettable expression horror as the screeching crack of shredded metal and shattering plastic pierces the night air. She reaches a hand out toward the android and lets out an unearthly blood-curdling howl of desperation.


System integrity errors flash across the HUD and the android attempts to reach an arm out to meet Neon's grasp.

Errors continue to flash across the display as the servomotors go unresponsive, the android's hands and body go limp mid-action. As the destroyed droid tumbles to the ground, camera still streaming, deathly cries echo from Neon mourning her lost friend-- mourning me.

Is this terror?


The system clock rewinds and the camera darts around erratically as the android regains her bearings. Once again, Dream sees that characteristic warm smile on Neon's face, as the slight shadowrunner sprints with all her might across the verdant courtyard toward the apprehensive android...


A bullet lands straight into Neon's back, knocking her off balance, her eyes too surprised to show any fear.

No. My mission parameters are to protect Neon. She needs me.

Is this who I am?

The android rushes over to grab Neon mid-fall and pulls her close, determined to carry her charge, her true friend, to the exfiltration point.

"It will be okay. I have you, Neon. You are safe."

She looks down at Neon, who looks up at Dream while drifting toward unconsciousness and lets out a weak whimper before her eyes close.


The thunderous crack of fracturing metal and plastic reverberates as a bullet flies through the lovestruck android's chest.




"I have you, Neon. Forever."