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    Thorn Wilde
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Stories in this Fandom are works of fan fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Recognized characters, events, incidents belong to CD Projekt Red, Micheal Pondsmith and/or R. Talsorian Games.

This is a transformative work based on the setting and characters of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG franchise and the video game Cyberpunk 2077. These elements belong to R. Talsorian Games and CD Projekt Red. The setting was invented by Mike Pondsmith.

Chase the Morning - 2. Country Roads

CW: recreational drug use

I don't need to tell you which song this chapter is named after. But I do need to tell you which VERSION of that song! Did YOU know there's a cyberpunk version of Country Roads? Well, you do now!

V normally rises with the sun, but today he finds it’s already high in the sky and peeking in through the small gap in the tent opening by the time he opens his eyes. He’s naked, and his mouth tastes like dick since he fell asleep before he had the chance to brush his teeth. He could do with a wash, but for that he has to get dressed first. It’s days like these he misses the farm the most and its large boiler that gave easy access to enough hot water for a long shower in the mornings. Not to mention proper privacy in there. The solar showers in camp work just fine, but while V is comfortable enough with his body, he doesn’t like broadcasting his birth sex to people who are, as yet, strangers. So far, he doesn’t think anyone’s seen. Anyone but Johnny, that is.

He pulls on a pair of loose cargo pants and a t-shirt with the faded logo of a band that hasn’t existed in three decades—a keepsake from his father. Grabbing his toothbrush and a cup of water, he steps outside, squinting into the sunlight. A passing member of the pack whose name V can’t remember waves at him.

‘Morning, V. Epic bedhead, choomba. You get laid or somethin’?’ The man cackles and passes on before V has time to answer, and V wonders if he and Johnny were seen or if the guy was just making a joke. He runs his fingers through his hair, attempting to tame it, but he knows it’s no use; it’s always curly and unruly in the mornings.

V brushes his teeth next to the tent, spitting the toothpaste on the ground and pouring water over so it’s absorbed into the dry earth. Then he puts his toothbrush in the cup, returns it to his tent, and heads for the camp kitchen.

He’s unused to this many people. Not that he minds—V isn’t shy or timid, bearing an air of confidence in most things he does—but it’s been ten years since he’s been part of a group this large. A decade ago, his family found an abandoned farm where the soil had started to recover and there was a nearby clean underground water source, and they decided to settle down. V’s mother Yanna and her brother had taken their partners and kids away from the pack. They had always been farmers before the Collapse and the lure of having that kind of life again was stronger than any ties to the Aldecaldos.

And it had worked out. For a while.

V finds Yanna near the kitchen. Someone’s cooked up some kind of breakfast hash—potatoes and protein, mostly—and there’s a fresh pot of coffee. ‘Morning, Vincent.’ Yanna ruffles his hair and kisses his cheek. ‘Up late last night?’

‘A bit,’ says V, and gladly accepts the coffee cup she offers him. ‘Was just hangin’ out with Johnny. You seen him this morning?’

‘I think he went out with Santiago on a job.’

‘Oh.’ V takes a thoughtful sip of coffee. ‘Well, I thought I’d head out and check on the farms today. Should be about harvest time.’

‘Good.’ Yanna nods. ‘Take Ainsley with you.’

V rolls his eyes. ‘I can handle it on my own, Mom.’

‘You can,’ she agrees, ‘but Ainsley needs to learn.’ She sips her own coffee, her eyes—the same hazel as V’s—fixed squarely on his. It’s the mom look and the pack leader look all mixed into one, and it brooks no argument.

V sighs. ‘Fine, fine. I’ll take her. Lemme get some breakfast down and go wash up.’

‘Of course.’ Yanna smiles.

#

Having completed the aforementioned routines, V and his cousin hop on their bikes and head out. By ‘the farms’, Yanna was referring to a collection of small hydroponic cannabis crops they’ve got scattered about the region. It’s V’s project, first and foremost. He picked abandoned shacks and farmhouses that look unassuming and were long since robbed of anything valuable. Inside, he set up solar-powered UV lamps and self-recycling automatic sprinkler systems. He has about half a dozen such locations, all growing OG Kush, plus a couple of places where he cures the buds. All are hidden away and locked up tight with both physical locks and security systems only an expert Netrunner could hack open. The family’s always kept within easy distance of them, although that may change now that they’ve joined up with Santiago.

Ainsley is eighteen, excitable, and smart. A little louder and more upbeat than most people V enjoys spending time with, but he likes her well enough all the same.

‘You’ve been hangin’ out with Johnny Silverhand a lot,’ she says over radio as they’re riding through the desert.

‘A little,’ V replies. ‘He’s cool.’

‘He’s so awesome. And, like, super hot! I can’t believe you and him are chooms!’

‘Okay, first of all, he’s fifteen years older than you. And second, I think chooms is taking it a little far. I barely know anything about him, we just smoke and drink and play guitar.’

‘Yeah, but you’re playing guitar with Johnny fucking Silverhand, cuz!’

V laughs. ‘Okay, yeah, that part’s pretty cool.’

There’s silence for a few minutes, then Ainsley speaks again. ‘Bet he’s had groupies younger than me.’

‘Maybe, like seven years ago. A lot less creepy.’

Ainsley huffs but drops the subject. V’s grateful. He’s not sure if he’s supposed to tell anyone what happened last night. He doesn’t want to. At least not before he’s talked to Johnny. He’s a little disappointed that Johnny took off before they had a chance to speak. He feels like he needs to reiterate and make clear that he’s not a groupie and there are no feelings involved here, beyond friendship. He gets the feeling a lot of people fuck Johnny for status. He doesn’t want to be one of those, and he’s not looking for an output either. It was fun, though. V really wants to do it again, because Ainsley’s right; Johnny’s hot. Plus, that big cock . . .

V shakes himself. Not the thing to be thinking about right now. Besides, they’re coming up on the first location.

#

It’s a gun run. Johnny and Santiago pick up the weapons from an arms dealer and deliver them to a small settlement that’s been plagued by Raffen and need the means to defend themselves against further attacks. Johnny would rather they use them to defend themselves against evil corporations, but way out here there’s very little the corps want.

The settlement is in what remains of an abandoned small town. The houses are run down, but the inhabited ones have been patched up pretty well. Kiefer, a middle-aged man who acts as sherriff more than anything else, offers them a beer, and they sit and talk on his porch for a while. ‘Yeah, it’s been rough makin’ it work out here,’ he says, taking a long swig. ‘But we’ve been here three years now and managed well enough.’

‘How do you feed yourselves?’ Santiago asks.

‘Oh, we actually have an agricultural scientist here. We call ’er Dr. Wendy. She’s set up some hydroponics facilities. Nothin’ fancy, but it keeps us fed when there’s nothin’ else comin’ through. Got some chickens too. Other’n that, we trade with Nomads like yourselves, and when it’s necessary, we head to the city. Only when necessary, though.’

‘Which city is closest from here?’ Johnny asks. He doesn’t quite have his bearings out here in the Badlands.

‘Night City.’ Kiefer takes another sip of beer, smacking his lips. ‘Takes a whole day just to get there, though, so it’s rarely worth it. There’s enough salvage left here to make most things we need. Got some good craftspeople with us. When we do go to the city, we often got things to sell. Keeps the cash flowin’ for emergencies, like now.’

They chat for a while longer, then Johnny and Santiago accept their eddies and take their leave. They’re on their way back to camp, Johnny in the passenger seat smoking out the window, when Santiago bluntly breaks the silence. ‘So. Does Yanna know you’re fucking her son?’

Johnny isn’t really surprised he knows. Santiago keeps up with everything that happens in the pack. Part of being a leader. Part of being a good leader. But so is minding your own business, and Johnny finds he’s a little annoyed. ‘Not unless someone told her.’

Santiago nods, keeping his eyes on the dusty road. ‘Little young, isn’t he?’

So that’s one thing Santiago doesn’t know. ‘He’s older’n he looks,’ Johnny says. ‘He’s twenty-four. I’m not cradle-robbing.’

‘Huh. Okay.’ And Santiago says nothing more on the subject.

When they get back to camp, V isn’t there. Johnny gathers from overheard conversations that he’s gone off to some farm with his cousin, though no one says anything about what farm that is. It’s not important. It shouldn’t matter. They fucked, it was nice, end of story. But for some reason, Johnny feels like they should talk, and so he waits by the fire that night, plucking at the strings of his guitar, but no V appears and in the end, Johnny goes to bed. He struggles to fall asleep, an inexplicable lump of anxiety making its home in his stomach.

When he still hasn’t seen V by noon the next day, and Johnny happens to find himself in the camp kitchen at the same time as Yanna, he casually asks, ‘Where’s your son? Feel like I haven’t seen him in a couple days.’

‘Off doin’ some work with his cousin Ainsley,’ she says. ‘They radioed in this morning. Got caught in a small dust storm yesterday. Nothin’ major, but it wasn’t safe to ride in so they ended up staying overnight at one of the farms. Should be back by evening.’

‘Right.’

‘Nice of you to help him out with his guitar playin’,’ she continues. ‘He’s never had a teacher before.’

Johnny shakes his head. ‘I’m no teacher. Just giving ’im some pointers, is all. Be a waste not to. Kid’s got some talent.’

She smiles. ‘Don’t know where he gets it from. I can’t keep a tune to save my life. Our family’s always been farmers. Well, until the Collapse, anyway. Tried to pick it up again a few years ago, but . . .’ She makes a face. ‘Shouldn’t’ve tried to go it alone. Not safe out here.’

‘What happened?’ Johnny asks.

‘We managed to bring some life to soil that should’ve been barren. What do you think happened? Some corp swung in to find out how we’d done it. Tried to buy us off, but that was our farm, goddamnit.’ She sighs. ‘We refused to sell. One night, we were attacked. Seemingly by Raffen, but they were too well equipped for that. Either corporate soldiers posing as Wraiths, or Wraiths supplied by the corp. Either way . . . Vincent’s father was killed, one of my brother’s partners, his daughter . . . and my son. My other son. He was twelve.’ This clearly hurts to talk about. Her hands shake as she gets out a pack of smokes. Johnny reaches into his pocket for his lighter and lights her cigarette for her. She takes a deep drag before continuing. ‘I swear, I woulda fought those motherfuckers to the death, but Jon, my brother, he convinced me we should flee. For the rest of the kids’ sakes. So we grabbed what we could and ran. That was five years ago.’

Johnny can only stare at her for a little while, processing what she just told him. A corp murdered V’s dad and younger brother? That’s fucked up. Finally, he swallows and says, ‘Well, shit. I’m . . . sorry.’ He wets his lips, looking away for a moment. ‘Which corp?’ he asks at last. ‘Arasaka?’

Yanna shakes her head. ‘Biotechnica. Always thought they were supposed to be one of the good ones. Restoring the ecosystem. Making the world actually habitable again.’

‘No such thing as an ethical megacorp,’ Johnny says darkly.

Yanna smiles wanly. ‘You wanna know the saddest part?’

‘What?’

‘There was no secret. There was nothing special about us, or the water, or the soil, other than that it’d recovered a little more than most places. Less acidic. We used the same, well-known, tried and true methods for improving bad soil that’ve been used for centuries. Planted alfalfa first. For the most part, we just got lucky. I told ’em that.’ She takes another drag off her cigarette, holds it for a moment, and blows it out again. ‘They didn’t listen.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Johnny says again, because he can’t think of anything else. ‘Fucking corpo swine,’ he adds, just to say something.

‘Amen, brother.’ Yanna takes a deep breath and seems to shake it all off at the exhale. She’s been leading her family for years. She knows how to be strong. She’s had to be. Her easy smile back, she says, ‘Anyway, I got some work to do. Vincent will be back before sundown. You can talk to him then.’

#

V returns home that evening to find Johnny having a drink by the fire. The sun isn’t completely down yet, but it’s getting chilly. Instead of immediately changing his clothes and having a shower, which he really needs, V goes straight over to him. He remains standing. ‘Hey, Johnny.’

Johnny, who was staring into the flames, looks up at him. ‘V. How you been?’ He wrinkles his nose. ‘Why d’you smell like a weed plantation?’

V laughs. ‘’Cause I run a weed plantation. Well, several little farms, I guess.’

‘Oh.’ Johnny looks at him for a moment. ‘So that’s the farms everyone was talkin’ about, then.’

‘Yeah. I got six little hydroponic facilities hidden away.’

‘That the same pot we’ve been smokin’?’ Johnny asks.

‘Yeah. I cure it myself. It’s a good source of income too. I paid for my transition with that scratch. Used to grow some on our old farm, but . . .’ He makes a face. He doesn’t really feel like telling Johnny that whole story right now.

Johnny surprises him by saying, ‘Yeah, your mom told me what happened there, with Biotechnica. I’m sorry.’

‘Huh.’ V frowns. ‘Wait, you talked to my mom?’

Johnny shrugs, draining his glass. ‘I was wondering where you were,’ he says with an air of complete nonchalance.

‘Were you worried about me, Silverhand?’ V teases.

Johnny scoffs, rolling his eyes. ‘You wish. Go change your clothes, man. And bring back some of those buds. I’ll be here.’ He picks up his guitar from where it rests against the side of his camping chair and starts strumming it, not looking at V.

Smiling at Johnny’s defensiveness, V does as he’s told. Once he’s showered and changed, he gets a small bag of pot from his stash and debates whether to bring papers or his bong. He settles on papers in the end. It’s gone dark by now. The camp is abuzz with life, people talking and drinking and playing cards. Several people give him a wave, tell him they’re glad he’s back, and he smiles and waves at them all. V’s easy manners have always made him an instant favourite wherever he goes, and this pack is no different.

Johnny’s sitting at a slight distance from the rest of them, though. V pulls up a plastic lawn chair next to him and gets to work rolling a joint. Johnny’s still playing, improvising something, but his attention is on V, and V can feel it. He glances at Johnny. ‘What?’

Johnny shakes his head. ‘Nothin’.’

V lights the joint and takes a couple of hits, then passes it to Johnny, who stops playing and puts down his guitar. V watches as Johnny fills his lungs. Letting the smoke out again, Johnny says, ‘We should talk.’

‘Guess so,’ says V, taking back the joint. He takes a moment, speaking only after another hit. ‘You don’t have to worry.’

‘About what?’ Johnny asks.

‘About me. My feelings or whatever. I meant what I said the other night. I’m not in love, I’m not a groupie, I just thought we could have fun. And if it was just a one time thing for you and you wanna leave it there, that’s fine.’

Johnny nods slowly. ‘Okay. But what do you want?’

V shrugs. ‘I wanna do it again.’ He grins. ‘I had fun. I think you did too.’

‘I did, as it happens,’ Johnny agrees. V passes him the joint and he takes a drag. ‘We can keep doing it if you want. Long as you’re sure you don’t want anything more.’

‘More than just fucking?’ V asks, and Johnny nods. ‘No, not really. I mean, I’d like to be your friend, but other than that, no. Just this is fine.’

Johnny gives him a crooked half smile. His posture is relaxed now. ‘Well, we’ll see about the friend thing.’

They finish the joint and then V stands up. ‘I need to eat somethin’. Haven’t had a proper meal since yesterday morning.’

Johnny stares in disbelief. ‘Why the fuck you come talk to me before you’ve even eaten, ya gonk?’

V laughs and shrugs his shoulders. ‘People are more important.’

Johnny scoffs. ‘People suck.’ Then he gives V a sidelong glance and amends, ‘You suck marginally less than most people.’

‘Bona fide love confession, comin’ from you,’ V says, eyebrow cocked. ‘You goin’ soft?’

Johnny stands up as well, ignoring him. ‘Think I’ll come with you. Could do with a bite myself.’

‘The more the merrier, man.’ V walks ahead of Johnny toward the kitchen, smiling to himself. After the couple of days he’s had, he could do with a good fuck. He has a feeling he’ll get one tonight. As long as he plays his cards right.

I use some world-specific slang in this story. Not loads, but some. Most of it should be self-explanatory, but if you read a word or term you can't make sense of, here's a glossary.

© 1988-2022 Micheal Pondsmith, R. Talsorian Games, CD Projekt Red; All Rights Reserved; Copyright © 2021 Thorn Wilde; All Rights Reserved.
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Thanks for reading! Did you like it? If you did, leave a like and a comment! If you didn't, leave a comment and tell me why!

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction that combine worlds created by the original content owner with names, places, characters, events, and incidents that are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, companies, events or locales are entirely coincidental. Authors are responsible for properly crediting Original Content creator for their creative works. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Stories in this Fandom are works of fan fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Recognized characters, events, incidents belong to CD Projekt Red, Micheal Pondsmith and/or R. Talsorian Games.
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The little dance is amusing. The "I'm not interested in you beyond sex" dance.

And this was a good info-dump without it being too much of a dump. It is a good balance. Well done. 🙂

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10 hours ago, Wayne Gray said:

The little dance is amusing. The "I'm not interested in you beyond sex" dance.

And this was a good info-dump without it being too much of a dump. It is a good balance. Well done. 🙂

Thank you! I'm glad you think it worked. There's a lot of info I need to weave into this story, and I'm trying to spread it out in as organic a way as I could. Exposition through dialogue, brief moments of introspection, etc. V's backstory is of my own invention, and even most readers who have played 2077 don't necessarily know all that much about the canon characters' backgrounds, so all that needs to be presented somehow as well. 

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