Murder in the Sixth World

Called by a bunch of euphemisms, such as wetwork or assassination, murder-for-hire is widely regarded as the most dangerous of all Shadowrun work. It's not necessarily the most difficult — in some cases, capturing a target alive may be more difficult than killing him. However, especially if the target is someone the corps and/or the authorities would care about (an exec or even a security guard), then the amount of effort put into bringing the criminal to justice is multiplied by a relatively large factor.

From the corps' point of view, this is good economics. If somebody just steals merchandise — especially easily replaceable merchandise — then the corp is out the amount stolen and little more. Even if a facility is damaged, it can be rebuilt. But if you kill one of their research scientists, then the damage done is much higher. The corp has lost not only the skillset of the employee, combined with all the future revenue that employee might generate, they have lost their investment in that employee.

This deserves some further explanation. The corps actually treat their people fairly well, if they're loyal. Admittedly, it's a regimented, structured existence full of boundaries, but within those boundaries it's a safe, comfortable life. The corp provides food, housing, medical care — all the necessities of life.

Corporations hire employees with the idea of bringing them on board permanently, if they're good. If an employee has been with the company for any length of time, then they're probably at least passable at what they do. The company invests in its employees with training, benefits, and other assorted goodies. This has become more true recently, as the corps have seen it necessary to improve their public image. They've started treating employees even better than before, in an effort to keep them. Especially in Denver, where extraterritoriality doesn't matter as much within the Free Trade Zone and people are more free to move around between countries, let alone between corps, it's important for the corporations to keep their people relatively happy.

When you kill an employee of a corp, especially for no good reason, then a lot of the corporations' attitude of looking the other way where Shadowrunners are concerned disappears. The higher ranking and less replacable the employee, the more this is the case. Shadowrunners who kill without a good reason may well get a reputation for being rogues, and many corps fear hiring those who display what they view as 'unnecessary roughness' and lack of professionalism. Corporations have finally gotten wise to the fact that it is they, for the most part, who have bred these Shadowrunners, by hiring them to perform runs, and they aren't always sure they like what they've created.

Sometimes the purpose of the run is to kill people. Sometimes it's even to kill a lot of people — but in that case, expect a decent chance that somebody beside the Johnson who hired you to be blamed for the run. Expect that at least some of the time, that somebody will be you. If you take such a job, cover your tracks well.

Basically, what this boils down to is, if you do more killing than is strictly necessary to complete the mission, then you (1) increase the amount of attention you bring toward catching you; and (2) run the risk of having your reputation suffer. Being known as a loose cannon does not make corps want to hire you; in fact, since corporations fear public scrutiny of their shadowy connections, it will most likely make them fear getting involved with you.

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