As always, please read the epilogue first.
First, why the epilogue? I don't normally have one in my writing. Usually, the characters figure things out by the end. By the Numbers, however, has a conspiracy driving events. The characters aren't in a position to discover the depth behind the events. Readers may want a bit more closure than the crew getting paid. The other reason is that payment is not the end of a shadowrun. There are times when getting paid starts a new set of problems. Thus, the epilogue is split into two parts. The first part steps away from the crew to give the reader a different look at the events. The second returns to the crew.
The first part shows what happened to Middlemas, the mage involved in the kidnapping of Nabi's daughter. He's not a normal street asset, as a few elements show. First, he's using his name instead of an alias. Second, there's arrogance that wise runners wouldn't display. The skin grafts are for the burns he suffered in his fight with Oswald. Again, fire elementals and open flame are never a good idea in an abandoned building in a bad part of town.
The fate of the fixer, K-Bob, is definitely a warning. Acts of violence tend to leave a body in one location. Spreading the pieces around is a graphic but effective way of saying, "Get off my turf." Either Baba Ganoush or Mister Macro arranged for the hit; last thing they want is runners being more paranoid than normal about being crossed by an employer.
The heart of the conspiracy is Graves. Graves is a dragon, a western dragon to be specific. He isn't one of the greats, like Lofwyr, CEO of Saeder-Krupp, is. However, a "normal" dragon is still formidable. A dragon with a claw in several corporations, manipulating cells, influencing companies large and small, is one to beware of. Graves' plan is to carve out a home of his own, starting with Seattle. Controlling corporations such as Fed-Boeing, Knight Errant, Lone Star, Gaiatronics, and even Evo and Telestrian means getting control of the services the metroplex uses. Fed-Boeing provides a source of aircraft, small and large, ideal for protecting and controlling Seattle air space. Graves is still around at the end of the story. This means I can create a sequel if I choose.
The second part returns to the crew and the aftermath of the shadowrun. Numbers says her goodbyes to the team. This went completely different than what I had planned in the outline, but there's no other outcome possible. Numbers needs to leave. Wulfe knows where she lives and has an Inspector Javert level of dedication to breaking her.
At the end of writing, I didn't feel comfortable with the story. I was feeling out of sorts, dejected. The loss of Numbers was the main reason; she was a key part of the story that not having her at the end, with no resolution, put me off the story. Getting the story ready for posting let me see it with new eyes after a few years. It holds up, and the end, while not anticipated, is the only way the story could end.
Since 2010, I have worked out where Numbers went, what Graves is doing next, and what the rest of the crew is doing. That story is for another serial.
In the coming weeks, as I prep the next serial, I'll be posting some background work for By the Numbers, including the original outline and character sheets for the cast.
Thanks for reading!
Tomorrow, the outline.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Daredevil.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Battle Beyond the Stars.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.