|Who Hunts the Hunter|
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Who Hunts the Hunter is a Shadowrun novel by Nyx Smith.
- Hunter and Hunted
From the distant forests of Maine comes the deadly Weretiger known as Striper, seeking nature's own special justice.
From the shadowed heart of the South Bronx comes the shaman called Bandit, interested only in the pursuit of his arcane arts, and the reconciliation with nature that Raccoon demands.
From the nightmare streets of Newark come Monk and Minx, seeking life itself.
Who is predator and who is prey? The assassin? The shaman? The kids with the flashing eyes? The Director of Resource for Hurley-Cooper Labs, or HCL's dedicated scientist? Or is it the elves? Or the mystery man from the Department of Water and Wastewater Management with a technical rating higher than God's?
Before they are done, a killer will learn the meaning of mercy, and one who honored life will discover the necessity of ruthless destruction....
Warning: Spoiler Information Below
A powerful and desperate magician tampers with black magic, twisting the world around him. Innocent souls are corrupted and made to serve evil designs; and a reclusive street shaman is forced to abandon his solitude and make a stand.
Feline shapeshifter Tikki has found solace in the wild, away from the cities she does not understand. But her secrets are too valuable for the two-leggers to leave her alone. The kidnapping of her cub draws Tikki back to the land of steel... where nothing will stop her from finding her missing child.
Detailed plot summaryEdit
2056. At her home in the wilderness of rural Maine, Striper is ambushed by three elves who steal her young cub but leave her alive. She tracks the elves to the person who leased them their vehicle and gets the credstick he used to pay them. Through a decker contact, Oracle, she traces the credstick to a dummy account used by an elf merc named Tang. A large payment from the same account is traced to a Boston fixer, Clutch, one of the few people who knew where Striper could be found. Knowing that Clutch betrayed her, she heads for Boston to confront him.
Meanwhile, a street shaman living in the Bronx, Bandit, has been struggling to abandon his former hermit lifestyle, to attune himself to people and the civilized world. He discovers that his sister Amy is also living in the Bronx, working as a vice president for a corporate research laboratory. He hasn't spoken to her in fifteen years, but he resolves to re-enter her life as a necessary part of his effort to become a whole person.
Amy Berman, Bandit's sister, is an executive for Hurley-Cooper Labs, a subsidiary of Kono-Furata-Ko International, a third-tier multinational megacorporation. KFK is preparing to conduct an audit of Hurley-Cooper, and Amy steels herself for a long confrontation with the auditors. When 147 items turn up missing on their inventory of laboratory purchases, Amy is able to track down all but 27 of them, all of which are associated with the Metascience Group led by renowned scientist Dr. Liron Phalen. Amy discovers that all of the missing items were originally purchased from dummy corporations, and she begins to suspect fraud.
Brian Guerney is a former UCAS special forces commando, now retired and working as a technician for the New York Department of Water and Wastewater Management. He receives an unexpected transfer to a new section. When he meets his new supervisor, Art, Brian discovers that he has become half of an elite paramilitary unit dedicated to protecting New York's water supply.
Striper interrogates Clutch in Boston, and obtains the name of Tang's fixer in New York. Cautious of a trap, Striper chooses to follow other leads first. She begins investigating the front corporations set up by Tang, and strikes paydata when she is able to trace his home address from a telecom log. She stakes out the building until one of Tang's accomplices, Shaver, arrives. Striper captures the elf and tortures her for the whereabouts of her cub. Shaver sends her into a trap—Striper is captured by Tang and Whistle.
At Hurley-Cooper, Amy begins investigating the questionable purchases made by the Metascience Group. She enlists the aid of a decker in cracking some suspicious encrypted files, and runs credit checks on the group's ranking scientists. She discovers a large account in the UCAS Bank under the name of Dr. Hill, the senior research assistant. In the midst of her investigation, Amy returns home late to find Bandit waiting in her apartment—her younger brother Scott, presumed dead for almost fifteen years. Overwhelmed by the reunion, she tells Bandit about her problems in exhausting detail. He offers to help her, placing his considerable magical abilities and shadowrunning experience at her disposal.
In the tunnels under the city, Brian and Art are waging a small war against a strange new breed of vampire. The enemy has magical powers, and eyes that glow red in dim light. Many of them are in some way mutated or disfigured. The water department commandos' advanced military armor and weapons give them every advantage, but they can't be everywhere. Some of the vampiric creatures (including Monk and Minx) are able to avoid the hunters and make regular visits to their Master, feeding him the life energy they steal from the dying.
Amy and Bandit confront Dr. Hill about the purchasing discrepancies and his own questionable finances. Hill panics, offering clumsy evasions and lies. He becomes physically ill, and cancels the interview. Amy's suspicions seem to be confirmed. While at the metascience lab, Bandit notices Striper's cub, and meets Dr. Phalen. Bandit becomes curious about Phalen and his research. While Amy reports her discoveries to her superior, Bandit projects astrally to Phalen's home, where he discovers the Roggoth'shoth, a magical book that reeks of evil. Bandit turns to They Who Watch, a tribunal of powerful shamans, for advice. He concludes that Phalen must be opposed.
Tang and his associates deliver Striper to the Hurley-Cooper metascience laboratory, where Hill and Phalen begin a series of tests. While Striper waits patiently for an opportunity to escape, she discovers that her persecution and imprisonment weren't random. When Dr. Phalen expressed an interest in a shapeshifter test subject, Germaine Olsson, the metascience group's administrative aide, hired Tang to capture Striper specifically. Two years ago in Philadelphia, Striper killed Germaine's son in a random act of violence. A bereaved mother's revenge, caged and subjected to experiments like an animal, a fate worse than death.
Amy returns to the metascience lab to interview Dr. Phalen about Dr. Hill's indiscretions. Using drugs and magic, Phalen manipulates Amy into calling the auditor to his office. He uses the same tactics against the auditor, banishing all suspicion concerning the Metascience group before returning his attention to Amy and her brother.
Striper escapes from her cage, overpowering Tang, Whistle, and Shaver. In the struggle, Whistle miscasts a spell, resulting in an explosion that sets off alarms and creates confusion throughout the building. Bandit takes advantage of the chaos to break into the lab complex. While looking for Phalen, he encounters Striper, who is still recovering from the explosion. Bandit saves Striper from a pair of security guards, and tells the shapeshifter where to find her cub. Germaine tries to prevent Striper's escape, and is killed. Dr. Hill commits suicide rather than obey Phalen's compulsion to stop Striper and her cub.
Brian and Art follow Phalen's soul-stealers through the sewers to a cellar under his house. They kill Victoria, and destroy the house with explosive charges.
Bandit confronts Phalen in a very satisfying clash of magical titans. With Amy's help, Bandit kills Phalen, freeing his horde of captured souls. Unexpectedly, the astral form Roggoth'shoth itself appears and takes possession of Amy. Bandit disables his sister and escapes with her. Rescuing the physical Roggoth'shoth from the ruins of Phalen's house, he takes the book and his sister to They Who Watch, who exorcise the demon and destroy the artifact.
Striper and her cub return to the wilderness.
- Tikki (aka. Striper): A tiger shapeshifter, or were-tiger. In her animal form, she closely resembles the largest species of tiger, Panthera tigris altaica, though her coloration is unusual: blood-red fur with black stripes. In human shape, she is a tall, attractive human woman of Asian heritage. She tints her hair red and wears it cropped close except for a long forelock. She customarily paints her face red, striped with black—her "Striper" mask. She wears red and black synthleather striped with gold or brushed steel studs. Being a shapeshifter, she is highly allergic to silver. Tikki was raised by her mother after her father was killed by human hunters—an experience that prejudiced her against metahumanity. As Striper, Tikki has a considerable reputation as an underworld enforcer, bounty hunter, and assassin. She has a considerable array of contacts and connections throughout the North American underworld. For most of her life, she never knew another tiger shapeshifter except for her mother and brother, until meeting a male named Raman two years ago. They conceived a child, though Raman left after the cub was born.
- Bandit (aka. Scott Berman, alias Scott Hatsumi): A street shaman following the Raccoon totem. Bandit began following his totem a very early age, well before his magical abilities developed. He was fascinated by Raccoons, obsessed with them, much to the distress of his parents and sister. Eventually, he ran away from home to pursue his magic. For a long time, Bandit was absorbed completely in his magic. He occasionally became involved in shadowruns as a means of exercising his power and skills, and indulging his curiosity, but never formed any lasting attachments. After living as a virtual hermit for fifteen years, Bandit has recently realized that people are an integral part of nature, and his isolation from them has become an obstacle to his development as a shaman. He has dedicated himself to re-attuning himself to people and society. Bandit is a powerful initiate. He uses two magical foci: a power focus in the shape of a flute, and an artifact called the Mask of Sassacus.
- Amy Berman: Vice President for Corporate Resources at Hurley-Cooper Laboratories, a division of Kono-Furata-Ko International. Amy is a rare thing in the corporate world, a conscientious, compassionate, and dedicated executive who genuinely cares about her corporation and the people who work for her. Amy carries a lot of residual guilt from when her younger brother disappeared, believing irrationally that it was her lack of patience and understanding for his peculiarities that drove him away.
In order of appearance:
- Striper (Tikki)
- Tang (aka. Elgin O'Keefe, alias Ogin, Pointman)*: elf mercenary and bounty hunter
- Shaver*: elf razorgirl, former member of the Sisters Sinister, wired reflexes and numerous cyberspurs
- Whistle*: female elf street mage, romantically involved with Shaver
- Shell: Bandit's girlfriend
- Jozzie: adolescent girl, one of several kids adopted by Shell
- Amy Berman
- Laurena: Berman's executive assistant, blonde Anglo
- Enoshi Ken: Kono-Furata-Ko VP for Corporate Liaison-North America
- Joey Chang: VP for Finance at Hurley-Cooper Labs
- Vernon Janasova: CEO of Hurley-Cooper Labs, compromiser, not good at confrontation
- Kurushima Jussai: KFK corporate efficiency expert, auditor
- Dr. Liron Phalen*: eminent metaserology researcher for Hurley-Cooper Labs, powerful initiated mage
- Greg Vanderlinde: VP for Research and Development at Hurley-Cooper
- Brian Guerney: ex-UCAS Marine commando, G-8, Department of Water and Wastewater Management
- Art: G-67, DWWM special forces
- Michele Orly: G-12, DWWM Deputy Director for Metro Operations
- Oracle: decker
- Bryce: executive assistant to Hurley-Cooper's exec VP, Mercedes Feliz
- Clutch (aka. Charles Kant, alias Spinner)*: Boston-area fixer
- Cherry: Clutch's bodyguard and personal mistress
- Mr. Numbers: dwarf money launderer and Certified Public Accountant
- Dr. Benjamin Hill*: chief research assistant to Dr. Phalen
- Old Man: powerful Amerind street shaman, Raven totem, Bandit's sometime mentor
- Harman Franck-Natali: Amy's boyfriend, Managing Director of Sales for Mitsuhama Systems Engineering
- Bob Ganz: Director of Resource Management at Hurley-Cooper
- Monk: soul-stealer, Newark Coroner's Office
- Minx: soul-stealer, Newark Coroner's Office
- Mo Rasheen: east Indian security guard at Amy's condoplex
- Frankavello: Apollo Services security guard at Hurley-Cooper's lab complex
- Castillano: national fixer, wolf shapeshifter
- Thuy: Boston fixer, Vietnamese, deals in illegal hardware (e.g. guns, maglock passkeys)
- Sabot: New York fixer
- Ivar Grubner: dwarf technician for Hurley-Cooper, ex-convict, retired decker
- Novangeline Grubner: Ivar's wife
- Germaine Olsson*: ork, administrative assistant for the H-C Metascience Group
- Vorteria: Dr. Phalen's familiar spirit
- Victoria Phalen*: Dr. Phalen's wife, crippled by an Awakened strain of leprosy
- Gwyna: elf woman, live-in nurse tending to Victoria Phalen
- Heinrich Langkafel: technician, left cyberhand equipped with multiple tools
- Lau Tsang: number 426, "Red Pole" of the Large Circle League triad
- Max Chernick: warehouse supervisor for HC metascience lab
- Ms. Suhree: east Indian security guard for HC metascience lab, sister of Mo Rasheen
- Mr. Bobinek: executive Vice President of Mitsuhama UCAS
- Mr. El-Gabri: executive Vice President of Mitsuhama's biotechnology division
- Baka*: troll, member of the Kong Destroyers street gang
- Dogmeat*: troll, member of the Kong Destroyers street gang
- Frederique: Enoshi Ken's mistress
- Enoshi Setsuko: Enoshi Ken's wife
- Usami Gek: special investigator for Kono-Furata-Ko International
- Dark Rain Hunter: powerful Amerind street shaman, Eagle totem
- Madam Ortiz: talismonger
- Neil: special investigator for KFK International, expert in interrogation.
- Pug: powerful street shaman, Dog totem, "portly man wearing a black beret and a green army jacket"
- Zach Wanger: Assistant Director for Site Security, Hurley-Cooper Labs
- Grinder: ork street shaman, Shark totem
- Erin*: ork soul-stealer, friend of Minx
- Paige*: ork soul-stealer, friend of Minx
- Prince of Darkness (Poochie): infected Doberman Pinscher, Paige's dog
- Flint: dwarf fixer, specializing in Matrix gear and decking contracts
- Zetana: female street shaman, Wolf totem
- Kajitori Saru: KFK wage mage
- Torakido Buntaro: Vice-Chairman of KFK
- Ed Flashing Deer: hunting guide in Sioux Nation
- character dies in the course of the novel.
- Road To Nowhere: smuggling route between northern UCAS and Quebec
- Villiers Arcology (New Bronx Plaza): NAGtNA, p. 118
- Tremont Avenue subway station
- Hurley-Cooper Laboratories administrative offices (New Bronx Plaza)
- Avant Tout (Manhattan): five-star restaurant
- Amy's condoplex (Scarsdale): tower D
- Hurley-Cooper Laboratories metascience installation (Van Cortlandt Industrial Park)
- Kuritomo Motel
- Nathan's Gourmet Express restaurant (Van Cortlandt Industrial Park)
- Riverside Corporate Community (Dobb's Ferry): luxury corporate residential neighborhood, Dr. Phalen's.
- Richmond Research Associates (Staten Island): commercial lab, another KFK subsidiary
- Pelham Bay Projects (Bronx): middle-class corporate residential complex, 40-story concrete blocks
- Waldorf Park East hotel (Manhattan): luxury hotel
- Brogan Bail Bonds
- Madam Ortiz's (Bronx Terminal Market): talismonger, fortune teller, lore store
- Blind Puppies: nightclub
- Vung Tao (near Norwood Airport): Vietnamese restaurant, front for fixer Thuy
Notes and analysisEdit
Nyx Smith is the author of the short story Striper in the Shadowrun anthology Into The Shadows (1992); and he is the author of four Shadowrun novels: Striper Assassin (1993), Fade To Black (1994), Who Hunts The Hunter (1995), and Steel Rain (1997).
Striper is the title character of Striper and Striper Assassin, and also made a cameo appearance in Find Your Own Truth (Robert Charette, 1991). Enoshi Ken also appeared in Striper Assassin. Bandit, Minx, Monk, and the security guard Mo Rasheen appeared previously in Fade To Black.
p. 9: The epigraph at the front of the book is William Blake's The Tyger (fifth stanza). The same poem was also quoted in Striper Assassin. The appeal of the poem is fairly obvious.
p. 16: The Villiers Arcology is the pet project of Martin Villiers, CEO of Villiers International and brother to the slightly more famous Darren Villiers (CEO of Novatech). As previously discussed in the novel, Night's Pawn (Tom Dowd, 1993), the arcology's construction has been plagued by numerous acts of sabotage.
p. 24: The Kong Destroyers are a troll street gang, the most vicious and violent in the Bronx. Gang colors are dark blue synthleathers decorated with numerous studs and spikes. (p. 135). Another Bronx gang, this one all dwarven, is called the Trollhammers (p. 221). Trollhammers tattoo their faces.
p. 30: Enoshi Ken was Bernard Ohara's aide and executive chief of staff for Exotech Entertainment (a Kono-Furata-Ko subsidiary) in the novel, Striper Assassin. Two years later in Who Hunts The Hunter, he's KFK's Vice President for Corporate Liaison in North America. Moving up in the world.
p. 35: "Dr. Phalen ... has been cited by the Nobel Commission for his work in metaserology." According to my desk reference, serology is "the science dealing with the immunological properties and actions of serum." Metaserology would probably incorporate magic into the same science.
p. 41: Art—Water Department Commando. I love it. Kudos to Smith for one of the more original character concepts in Shadowrun, and curiously enough, one of the better-grounded. "There's maybe twenty million people in this megaplex, Jersey included. What do you think those people depend on more than anything else just to survive? What do you think would happen if some nasty little Sixth World virus got into the water supply? Do you have any concept of how fast this whole plex could go down the drain?"
p. 46: Tikki obtains clothes and a vehicle in a bar scene straight out of Terminator 2. Not sure whether to call it plagiarism or homage.
p. 61: The hearth spirit of Bandit's building occasionally appears and speaks to him without being summoned. Either this is a special case, and the hearth spirit has become a Free Spirit inhabiting the building, or Bandit conjures him subconsciously.
p. 76: Security for Hurley-Cooper Laboratories is contracted to Apollo Services, a subsidiary of Yamatetsu, dark blue uniforms. Another private security provider in the New York area is NitroSec (p. 141), known for hiring trolls as security guards, perhaps exclusively.
p. 86: Shaver is a former member of the Sisters Sinister, a street gang from Manhattan's Lower East Side (NAGtNA p. 127).
p. 105: Dr. Liron Phalen and his wife suffer from metamycobacterium leprosis, "the Sixth World form of leprosy." He contracted the disease during a trip to the Middle East, and passed it to his wife before realizing he was infected. The extremely virulent wasting disease inflicted terrible damage before he was able to halt its progress magically, and he has spent years searching for a cure. Dr. Phalen conceals the ravages of his illness with a sophisticated prosthetic mask and wig.
p. 112: the dominant Triad in New York is the Large Circle League.
p. 172, 191: Watcher spirits summoned by Bandit take the shape of a Raccoon. Do watchers conjured by shamans always appear in forms related to the Totem, or is the shape dictated by the shaman on a case by case basis?
p. 173: Astral space in the HC metascience lab, where animal testing is regularly conducted, is pretty grim.
p. 191: Bandit displays several atypical magical abilities during his astral penetration of Phalen's home. He uses his own Watcher spirits to distract and divert Phalen's Watchers on alarm detail. He uses a spell to create duplicate auras of himself (this one he also used in Fade to Black). He uses a magical artifact called the Mask of Sassacus to temporarily gain control of Phalen's familiar, Vorteria.
p. 205: A magical group called They Who Watch apparently consists of the most powerful street shamans in New York, probably led by the Raven shaman Bandit knows as The Old One. Two other members are Dark Rain Hunter, an Eagle shaman; and Pug, a Dog shaman.
p. 210: Monk refers to a Mark Twain short story, "Mr. Bloke's Item." Can't place it.
p. 216: Striper learns that her capture wasn't random, but personal. Germaine Olsson, the metascience lab's administrative aide, engineered it in revenge for Striper's killing of Germaine's son in Philadelphia two years earlier (Striper Assassin, p. 66).
p. 220: The Roggoth'shoth is a magical tome from the Fourth World, written by a mage named Penticlese. (Is this an Earthdawn reference? Anyone?). Using the black secrets of the Roggoth'shoth, Phalen was able to create a breed of hunters, similar in many respects to vampires. His hunters steal life essence and feed it to him, which he uses to block the degenerative effects of the leprosis eating away at him and his wife while he searches for a cure. The artifact is self-aware, a malignant entity capable of projecting an astral form bearing "a vague resemblance to a twisted sort of bat-monkey with fangs and horns" (p. 259). It is capable of independent action, demonstrated by its possession of Amy after Phalen's death.
About the cover: Like the cover for Striper Assassin, this portrait by Romas Croallus is an excellent picture on its own merits, but it doesn't match up with the laws of the Shadowrun universe. Shapeshifters don't have a "transition form" like the one Striper wears in this painting—their shape is either human or animal. The event pictured on the cover never takes place in the novel. The only time that Bandit and Striper share the stage is when they meet in the corridors of the Metascience installation, and Bandit is not astrally projecting at the time.
What's this artist's name, anyway? The credit names "Romas Croallus" in Who Hunts The Hunter, "Romas Kukalis" in Fade To Black and Lone Wolf, and just "Romas" in Striper Assassin and Steel Rain.
Monk and Minx survive the death of Liron and Victoria Phalen, though Minx believed that she would die when Phalen did (p. 260). It is unclear whether they survived the destruction of the Roggoth'shoth by They Who Watch a short while later. Smith seems to imply that they do, if only by omission. I would prefer to think that all of the soul-stealers were destroyed along with the book.
Amy's fiancee, Harman Franck-Natali, defects from Mitsuhama to KFK, a minor coup for the corp and a career boost for Amy.
Striper and her cub retreat from civilization. Germain's enraged grief and Bandit's unlooked-for assistance have forced Striper to reconsider her prejudices about metahumans.
- German: Jäger und Gejagte
- French: Qui chasse le chasseur
- Mason's: 3 out of 5. This book is the last of a loose trilogy of novels that began with Striper Assassin and Fade To Black. Though the first two novels have little or nothing to connect them, unfinished elements of each are woven together in Who Hunts the Hunter for a fairly effective conclusion. A definite improvement from Smith's earlier books. 3 out of 5.
- Doug's: B (out of A, B, C, D scale) I am not sure why the author didn't make this more than one book. None of the storylines are bad, they just barely impinge on each other. Smith could easily have made this into two books, possibly three, by just expanding each plot until it had enough meat to stand on its own. Perhaps it is best thought of as a braided novel. Two of the plotlines even have similar themes of understanding humanity and thus becoming more human. But it doesn't entirely work, even then.
- Goodreads: 3.48 (as of June 2013)
- Based partially on Mason's review