Like Clockwork

Gabe leaned against the wall, edging closer to the corner on his right. His finely tailored suit and vest were casual but expensive. Other than his cybernetic eye and gloved hands, he looked like any other executive above the three hundredth floor in the Argus tower.

With a calm, slow motion, Gabe attached his miniature wireless camera to the wall and extended its lens around the corner. The active feed played back through his cybernetics. It used to give him vertigo, but he’d learned to embrace the feeling.

Three sec guards stood ready near the vault doors. They held the latest in Argus tech military-issue hardware, and the hallway wasn’t that long. At this range the bullets would barely notice Gabe as they tore through his body and shredded the wall behind him.

“I’m in position,” Gabe whispered to his subcutaneous commlink.

“Another giant falls,” said a smug voice over Gabe’s comm. Then the vault behind the guards cycled open.

There was a moment of panic in the hallway as two of the three guards turned to the door and hustled into the vault, rifles at the ready. They moved with quick, precise steps that kept them mobile and balanced. The vault’s lights were out, the dim twinkle of console lights the only illumination past the door.

The third guard held her rifle pointed down the hallway directly toward where Gabe hid. They were well trained, these Argus goons.

Gabe drew the glove off his right hand, finger by finger, revealing the metallic sheen of pure cybernetics beneath. Then he unholstered his hidden weapon, a modified S&W ’35. He sent a command to his camera that painted the guard with a fine, invisible targeting laser then linked the targeting data to his arm. When his hand darted around the corner, the gun lined up perfectly and fired a single shot.

The guard dropped. Gabe’s shot had taken her in the throat.

“A shocking display of violence, Mr. Santiago,” said the same smooth voice over the comm.

The two guards in the vault took cover positions at the vault door. One sprayed suppressing fire as the second moved forward and checked the casualty for life signs. Gabe’s hand darted out again, and his shot took the kneeling guard in the cheek.

“Only one to go. I do think you have this, friend.”

The remaining guard kept his gun trained on Gabe’s side of the hall, but he stopped firing.

“Mr. Cortez,” Gabe said calmly, “please keep this line clear.”

“Very well, but I do believe the man is attempting to call for reinforcements,” Hernando said, a hint of a smile coming through the audio. “It is fortuitous for you that I have disabled his communications.”

They were in a stalemate. The guard was in near-total cover behind a reinforced wall. Gabe wouldn’t be able to pull his trick with the targeting laser again, and he couldn’t draw the guard out. Time would favour the Argus employee.

Then we change the game, Gabe thought to himself. From one of his vest pockets he drew out a shiny, black, cigar-sized grenade. Running the timing calculations through his optics, Gabe depressed the trigger, counted two seconds, then reached out and tossed the grenade down the hallway, simultaneously cutting his camera feed.

Gunfire erupted immediately, and two armour-piercing rounds perforated his arm. There wasn’t pain, but there was a wrongness. His limb was not responding the way it should, and his brain interpreted that as a massive injury.

The flashbang went off, and bright light bathed the hallway. A thunderclap of sound left Gabe’s ears ringing, but he stepped calmly into the hallway, switching his gun to his left hand.

The remaining guard was curled into a ball on the floor, hands pressed to his ears, his gun a few feet away. Gabe kicked the gun further as he approached, letting it skitter deeper into the vault. Then he put a single bullet into the guard’s head.

The vault held offline drives of Argus Security’s latest research and development. The most advanced hardware designs known to humanity. Gabe started plugging wireless access points into each server. His buyers would line up for this. Kill for this.

“Team, check in,” Gabe said over his comm. “Marrón, go.”

“The facial recs tagged you when the shooting started, but that won’t be a problem. Los Pistoleros got you covered, brother.”

“Good. Cortez?”

“The backdoors are online. The data is streaming to your drops now, and the main systems are down. Their activation sequences are scrambled, and I expect they’ll have a job of untwining before any of their defenses can be reactivated.”

“No need to gloat. Good job. Jones?”

“Evac on the 302nd floor in thirty seconds. Be there or be left behind.”


Friends in Low Places

Criminal is my home. As much as I play Anarch these days because all of those fun cards are in Anarch, blue cards just feel comfortable to me.

And Exploit is a blue card to its core.

The local group and I were thinking about what a Criminal three-central event would look like. Shapers have Notoriety and Encore, Anarchs have Quest Completed, and Neutrals have the best of them all—Apocalypse.

But now we have Exploit. Let’s derez three pieces of ICE. Yes please and thank you.

To support this card, we’re going way, way back. Dust off your Desperados and your Santiagos, because we want those incremental cash returns to keep that running engine running.

With Dirty Laundry, Account Siphon, Security Testing, and Temujin—not to mention Gabe credits and Turning Wheel counters, this deck is built to run multiple times a turn. Of course, that also means we should think about Datasuckers, so there they are. Something to help us deal with the crazily high-strength ICE that breaker-starved Criminals have to deal with these days.

In a bind? Use your Inside Job. Corp winning the money game? Bring out your Hernando Cortez.

Since Hostage is in faction, I went only single copies of Kati, Cortez, and Aaron (who, it does not need to be said, is king of Account Siphon decks). That let me start thinking about other connections I might want to include. Drug Dealer is pretty sweet if you can get your economy running, and Blockade Runner will help move through our deck faster without having to discard.

Lastly, Joshua B.

As long as Aaron has counters, Joshua B. is an amazing addition to support our Exploit shenanigans.

I’m not super sold on the Plascretes, but I’m also not sure that a single Aaron is enough to protect us from angry Weyland retaliations. Something that will take some iteration to discover, I think.

Until then, do some running and make that money!

Professional Exploitation (Exploit)

Gabriel Santiago: Consummate Professional


Event (22)
3x Account Siphon
3x Dirty Laundry
3x Exploit
2x Forged Activation Orders
3x Hostage
2x Inside Job
3x Special Order
3x Sure Gamble


Hardware (4)
2x Desperado ★★
2x Plascrete Carapace


Resource (13)
1x Aaron Marrón
1x Blockade Runner
1x Drug Dealer
1x Hernando Cortez
1x Joshua B. ●●●
1x Kati Jones
2x Security Testing
3x Temüjin Contract
2x The Turning Wheel ●●


Icebreaker (4)
1x Femme Fatale
1x Gordian Blade ●●●
1x Mongoose
1x Paperclip ●●●


Program (2)
2x Datasucker ●●


13 influence spent (max 15-2★=13, available 0)
45 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Daedalus Complex

Deck built on https://netrunnerdb.com.




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