- The Cast of Regulars
- What Went Down
- Runner Updates
- News in the World
- NPCs of Note
- Rumors in the Shadows
The Cast of Regulars
- Big Ben, ork street sam. Not so bright, not so personable, very shooty.
- Blackjack, jaguar shapeshifter and physical adept. Likes to shoot people that get angry at him for screwing up.
- Doc, ork Wiccan street witch. Broke.
- Mackle, troll drake houngan specializing in becoming a vessel for the Loa. Not much use unless possessed.
What Went DownDoc is hanging around his crummy apartment at 9:00am, trying to decide whether to go back to bed or not, when his commlink chirps. It's his fixer, Remmy, with a job. Finally, something to put some ones in his credstick! He gets the team together and they head to The Cutting Edge, a strip club in the University district. They meet the Johnson in a back room. He turns out to be a middle-aged Japanese man in a clean blue suit. Standing on his shoulder is a tiny replica of himself, and it bows frequently while it whispers reverently in his ear. Mr. Johnson explains the job in short words and a no-nonsense tone: it is an involuntary extraction. The target is Jason Magoy, a molecular biologist who lives in Bellevue and works for MRC Inc. MRC has recently developed something new that's supposed to put the skyrocket the company's worth. Mr. Johnson needs Magoy kidnapped within the next two days so he can be interrogated and the details of this new discovery can be learned in advance of its release, letting Johnson's company keep abreast or pull ahead of MRC. The target's girlfriend may be of use, and Mr. Johnson provides her name as well: Shari Ellen Wilcomb.
Doc fires up his Eurosoft Hackomatics™ and sends them out into the matrix searching for information. They return seconds later with Magoy's addresses (physical and cyber) as well as lots of basic information on MRC. The group piles into Blackjack's van and heads towards Magoy's house, though Blackjack refuses to park too close to it sine it's in a really nice neighborhood. Doc sends in a watcher to look for Magoy. It returns shortly and lets Doc know the man is not home. Meanwhile Mackle summons a much larger spirit, in preparation for when he will need to be possessed later.
Doc does some more matrix searching. He has the agents dig into MRC and finds out that they do high end neurochemical work, with a specialization in the underlying foundations of headware. The Johnson was right that they're about to spring something big on the market, but there's no signs on the 'trix of what that something might be. There are also whispers in the shadow net that the place's security is not up to spec considering the high-end tech they work in. The team drives by the place and Doc sends in another watcher but it is quickly disrupted. He tells the group that the building has astral defenses and Big Ben immediately replies "I'm not fighting ghosts."
Mackle suggests they find the girlfriend, while Ben suggests they wait for Jason to come home. They finally decide on questioning the girl, and Blackjack suggests that Ben go, since it was his smart idea. Doc points out bluntly that Ben is a stupid guy. Ben's witty retort? "Hey!"
Shari's name and number are unlisted, so Doc fires up the Hackomatics™ again and sends them off to find information, which begins slowly trickling into his inbox. She's a hair stylist, and it turns out she's a good one. She used to run her own salon, but it was abruptly shut down due to some sort of permit violations. Minoru Sasaki found out she was marrying Jason and lashed out. Now she works at a second rate style shop in the Renraku Arcology downtown. Since the downtown district has gated entrances and guards that check SINs, only Blackjack and Big Ben can go, though Mackle does contact his fixer Raymond and request a fake SIN. It'll take a couple of days though, so he won't be joining the two downtown. They do make a quick stop at the Tacoma Mall, where they browse through a few Emotitoy™ kiosks. Nothing there is street-worthy, so they go up to the top floor and look at what Bestest Buy has to offer. Blackjack settles on the Sugimori Special line's Peeka™ model, a cute little yellow hamster-like emotitoy that waits inside its white and red ball until activated. Mackle goes for the more stylish Horizon Kiyo™, an emotitoy shaped like an eastern dragon.
The two least social and intelligent members of the team head into downtown to attempt to surreptitiously interrogate the girlfriend. Ben, whose motto is "on a run, bring a gun" decides to play it safe and only bring his hold out pistol into the mall. His time with Mossad taught him that most malls will have security, but he's convinced he can get it past the scanners, and it turns out he was right. As the two enter the shop, a pretty young lady greets them with a smile that's almost a frown. "How may I help you?"
Peeka offers his first helpful hint. "It doesn't seem like she likes you. Perhaps you shouldn't have ketchup on your chin." Blackjack quickly wipes his chin and asks about Shari. She's busy now, and the hostess asks if they have an appointment. Blackjack says no, but Big Ben says yes. She takes his name and checks the book, and apologizes that there doesn't seem to be an appointment scheduled. Ben is adamant that Shari told him to come in, so the hostess goes back to ask. When she returns she seems concerned, and Peeka points out that "she doesn't like your friend." Blackjack signs in for a walk-in appointment and they wait for Shari to be free.
Across town, Mackle and Doc hang out at the cafe across the street from MRC. It's quiet, and service is slow. Prejudicially slow. Mackle's water never gets refilled, even though they're there almost all day. He weathers the bigoted storm without complaint though, and it pays off when the lunch rush starts. Mackle overhears an excited group talking about Cybase, the next generation headware to neuron interface. There's some annoyance at Magoy's disappearance, as it seems he's been working from home for the last few days despite the hammer management is bringing down to make sure Cybase launches on time.
Back in the shop Blackjack is taken in the back for his private styling, where he meets Shari. She asks him what sort of cut he's looking for, and he doesn't know. She sniffs at him and then scrunches up her nose. "Let's go with something cutting edge." He starts to ask her about their target but then can't remember the guy's name. Luckily he's got a throat mike on, and he calls Doc to fill him in. It turns out she's engaged, with her ring on the right hand in traditional Eastern Russian fashion (though there's nothing Russian about her accent or actions). They're due to be married in just a few days. She finishes up and shows Blackjack his rockin' new 'do, which he pays the 50¥ for (no tip).
Big Ben goes in next and requests a crew cut. He pushes pretty hard, trying to get Blackjack hooked up with Shari, but fails miserably. She finishes quickly and he pays her the 55¥ (big tipper!). She tells him very matter of factly that he can get the exact same cut for much cheaper almost anywhere else, and that he'd do best to take advantage of that the next time.
Low on intel and time, Blackjack calls up Louie, his fixer. As soon as he mentions Shari, Louie's face lights up then clouds with suspicion. "What do you need with her?"
Peeka pipes up "he thinks you're going to kidnap, murder, and/or rape her. Not necessarily in that order."
Blackjack explains that they just want to find her boyfriend for a job they're on, and Louie relaxes. "Yeah, I know her well. I was a regular at her shop before that asshole Sasaki had it shut down." Blackjack is excited to know something about someone, and mentions that he knows Sasaki is a Mitsuhama VP. Louie is confused. "Huh? He's the assistant governor of Seattle. He didn't like her upcoming nuptials. She's supposed to get married in just a few days. She's worried about Jason, but doesn't seem worried that his disappearance means he won't be there.
"Yeah, that's kinda messed up, ain't it? How's a 60-something lab geek get a lady like Shari? Especially once you've seen him flop around like a fish out of water over at the Single Helix. He can't have disappeared far though, not with a woman like Shari waiting for him." Blackjack thanks Louie and the team meets back up.
They head over to Shari's house and send another watcher in. It comes back empty-handed so they break in. They find a lab coat fresh from the dry cleaners hanging in the closet, and several matchbooks from the Single Helix on the nightstand. Blackjack sniffs at the coat, hoping to get Magoy's scent, but all he can smell is cleaning chemicals so he heads to the fridge. He gets there and sees Ben has already cracked open a wine cooler so he grabs himself one.
It's about 9:00pm, so they head towards the Single Helix. Blackjack aims straight for the bar and starts drinking hard, his shapeshifter metabolism taking care of most of the unenjoyable effects. Big Ben nurses his club soda. Doc makes a beeline for the dance floor and starts to gyrate with the other partiers, though he lacks their day-glo body paint and custom PAN displays. Mackle also hits the bar, tipping 100% and following his Kiyo's advice while asking about "his friend" Jason. The bartender hasn't seen him around lately, but the girlfriend is usually in on weekends even if Jason isn't. She exclaims about how "strange that is" and Mackle assumes she's talking about the relationship, but she tells him that Axis Mundi, the club's owner, is Jason's brother. She's amazed that the two are so different, with her boss being ultra-wizzer and his brother ultraviolet (which Kiyo explains means "so far below the level of cool that he can't be seen." As she talks about Axis Mundi she nods towards a door at the top of a short flight of stairs. Ben and Mackle head that way. "Axis Mundi" is a phrase that Mackle recognizes as meaning a doorway between worlds
Mackle again inquires about Jason and is told that he's out of town, but should be back soon. He mentions the work on Cybase and says that they really need him, but the club owner won't talk, so Mackle uses his throat mike to let Doc know they need his mind-controlling capabilities. As a second ork appears in the door behind the troll, Axis Mundi's hand moves to hover next what can only be a Panic Button, and he asks them to please leave now. Doc quickly grabs hold of the man's thoughts and tells his "we are friends, please comply." With the magical assistance and the overt show of force Mackle quickly gets the answer to their questions, including an address for the apartment that Jason is staying in. A call downstairs lets Blackjack know to get the car ready, which he does after just a few more drinks.
Doc goes to leave, but Big Ben has gotten it into his head that his mission is to prevent anyone from leaving the room, so he stands in the other ork's way. When the street sam won't move, a flick of the wrist and a flash of mana grabs control of his thoughts as well. Hearing the questioning end, Doc sends his new puppet in to knock out his old one. Once Ben has hit the man and Doc is out of the room, the spell is dropped. Ben looks around confused. "am I supposed to hit him?" Mackle tells him yes, so he continues knocking the man out and they all meet up outside where they get into Blackjack's waiting car and head off into the night.
The night is still young and the clock is ticking, so they head straight for the apartment complex. When they get there, PANs light up and let them know that there are apartments for rent. They get a simple map of the complex and some basic layout information for the various types of apartments available. 32B is in the middle of the second floor and is a "New Family:" one master bedroom with bath, one smaller bedroom, a large communal bathroom, small kitchen, and ample living room. There is a balcony so Ben and Blackjack prepare to use it to climb up. Doc stays in the car summoning a plant spirit and magically enhancing his reaction times. The writhing mass of vines awaits Doc's command. Mackle calls the complex's main number and wakes the manager, then talks himself into a tour of one of the nearby suites.
At the balcony Ben fires up a grapple gun and starts to climb, but the going is slow so he drops back down and reels in the hook. Blackjack tells him to just jump, which he does, but when he goes to pull himself up he accidentally reaches through the bars and grabs one of the legs of a barbecue grill. The grill clangs and falls over, and Ben freezes to see if anyone investigates. Blackjack backs up to where he can see the balcony well and gets ready to shoot. Ben sees a man in full body armor and a helmet come out of what would be the master bedroom carrying an assault rifle on a strap. He's got a pistol holstered on his side and a katana in a sheathe on his back. He doesn't see Ben hanging from the ledge. He must be trained, as he doesn't move forward to investigate, just waits for a new development. Big Ben tells the others what he sees.
Meanwhile, Mackle is engrossed in the comfort that can be had in the "Happy Bachelor" apartment, and doesn't even notice the gunfire. The manager does though, and he takes off back to his apartment, calling Knight Errant as he goes.
Doc tells his newly summoned spirit to go inside and knock out anyone it sees that is not part of their team, giving special preference to Jason Magoy. It glides into the complex as ordered. Gunshots ring out from the inside when it materializes, and Blackjack starts running for the front of the building so he can go in the door instead of trying to climb up to the balcony. More shots come from inside, a couple of double-tapping pistols. With something inside now, the man with the FN HAR turns back to the bedroom door and rattles off a full auto burst into the plant spirit. Ben takes the opportunity to climb the rest of the way up and gently slide open the screen door. Unseen in the astral, a wolf-like beast spirit with porcupine spines running down its back lunges at Doc's spirit, but is dodged. One more man fires at the spirit, but his capsule rounds splatter ineffectually against its wooden hide. Two others move in to stun baton range, but can't seem to strike the agile
Doc levitates himself up to the level of the balcony so he can see in. Another club swings and misses the spirit, but it provides an opening for a full-auto spray of gel from the bodyguard's leader. The capsules' chemicals react violently with the natural order of the plant elemental, and it rapidly dissolves. Ben opens the glass door of the balcony which sets off an audible alarm, and he fires a burst of stick-n-shock into the lead bodyguard. The man doesn't go down, partly due to luck and partly due to the nonconductivity of his armor. He still feels the jolt though, and leans up against the wall to steady himself while his muscles stop jittering. Having felt his last spirit get disrupted, Doc lands to summon another spirit, this time a large water elemental shaped like a nautilus with a swirling cerulean shell..
Blackjack makes it to the front of the apartment, but can't see through the curtained windows so he fires through one. Glass sprays and the curtains move enough to give him a glimpse of the lead bodyguard. He sprays a burst of stick-n-shock that way and the man falls, twitching slightly. The faint smell of burnt flesh indicates that he won't be getting back up any time soon. The large wolfen beast spirit rounds the corner and growls at Ben. The growl digs its way into his stomach and bowels, making them churn. Then it works its way into his reptile brain, which starts to scream "run from the perfect predator!" But Ben has been in countless fights, and he's too stupid to know fear, so he does his best to ignore the feeling and fires two quick bursts at the spirit. The second one disrupts it in a spray of sparks. Doc tells his new spirit to go into the apartment and disrupt any other spirits it finds, then return to him, so it heads that way and starts looking around.
One of the guards steps halfway into the bedroom doorway, using the jam for cover. He drops his stun baton and quick draws to fire two quick shots at Ben. The first splashes ineffectually against the orks armor, but the second manages to get a little of the Narcoject / DMSO cocktail into his shirt, where it slowly seeps onto his chest and through his skin. Two more men in armor come into the hall and do the same thing. The first drops to one knee to give the second a clear line of fire. Po-pop-pop-pop, and four more rounds fly at Ben, but the ork dodges three of them.
Finally snapping to attention, Mackle calls his spirit and orders it to possess him.
Blackjack fires a burst at the guy standing in the back and knocks him out, a second burst peppers the back of the kneeling guard's armor. Ben dodges behind the couch for cover and fires off two bursts of his own. Each drops a bodyguard and the fight is over as quickly as it started. Doc levitates into the room and when they see that one of the men in armor was Jason the wiccan levitates him out to the car where they disappear into the night, though not before Ben grabs himself a nice new assault rifle off of an unconscious bodyguard..
A quick call to the Johnson and they've got a meet set up at the Cutting Edge again. They bring Jason around back as instructed and levitate him into thesame back room they used before. The Johnson walks over with a sneer and kicks the unconscious scientist hard across the face. When the shiny black wing-tipped shoe connects with Jason's face, the skin rips and tears, then falls away. Mr. Johnson's brutality rips through the latex mask covering a decoy's face and reveals that of a much younger man.
The Johnson's shock and anger is palpable. "What the hell is this? I paid you to bring me Jason Magoy! I should call Remmy back right now and have you black-balled... have your pay cut! You could never work in this city again!
Blackjack's gun springs from its holster and the Johnson's eyes grow wide, though more in shock than fear. It's only Big Ben's quick words that stop the trigger from being pulled, and the words of the rest of his team that calm him down enough to ensure he won't spray bullets into their employer.
The team agrees to go back out, as they still have a day left. They discuss going back to the apartment to see what they can learn, but figure the cops will be there by now so there's no point. Instead they head back to their respective homes to rest and think things through.
On the way back, a bored Mackle is browsing the matrix when he catches some chatter about "a disturbing story." Ever curious, he swings over to the site and catches a live story of a young ork girl telling a social worker about the things her daddy did to her using in vaguest terms she can. When the picture splits to show a sketch of the father he immediately calls Doc. He doesn't seem too disturbed by the idea that his friend is a child molestor, but wants to makes sure Doc knows about the story.
Doc watches it too and calls up Remmy to see if he can think of anyone that might want to frame him. Remmy is sure it isn't the Johnson. While the man is definitely the type to lash out at someone for failure, and especially for putting a gun in his face, but he wouldn't do it in the middle of a job. They talk a bit and Remmy suggests that it might have something to do with the magical children they faced on their last run. Doc isn't so sure, but he thanks Remmy for his time with a little cred, and gets a cheap disguise: wig, scarf, and some different clothes.
The next day they head to Shari's old workplace. The shut down salon in the Beleevue Mall now has a for lease sign on it, and the group strolls up to check it out. A maglock passkey gets them in, but their hopes that Dr. Magoy was hiding out there fall through.
They discuss kidnapping Shari, but don't want to do it because Blackjack's fixer Louie seemed really friendly with her and he'd probably get pretty pissed. Doc mentions that if they get her commlink they can probably harvest some data off of it, and might get a lead on the scientist's whereabouts. Everyone but Big Ben is too scared to call the salon back, so the ork makes the connection. The greeter answers and immediately recognizes him. In a horrific attempt at a British accent Ben says "This is Timothy. Is Shari working?" With disgust at this obviously moronic stalker, the woman tells him not to call back abd breaks the connection. As her face fades from view Ben slaps his forehead. "Oh yeah. It's video."
Since Mackle has never been past the downtown checkpoints, much less the arcology, he calls and requests an appointment with Shari. When he is told she's working today the connection is "dropped." He then puts his comm in hidden mode so they can't call back. Blackjack calls Louie looking for more information and the fixer says he'll call back when he finds out anything. In the meantime they decide to enact Doc's plan and get a commlink loaded with hacker agents close enough to Shari to start puling data off of her comm. Blackjack heads back into the mall and sits on a bench a few stores down from the salon. He sets the agents to their task and soon his comm starts chirping with new data.
They sit around and sort through it and finally find a message from Jason to Shari that says he'll be at the Gates Under Sound, a fancy downtown hotel whose six lower floors are under the Puget Sound. A groan rises from the group as they realize that yet again being SINless scum is going to make it hard for them to do their jobs. Big Ben rings up his old Mossad friend Garrus Shepard and asks about the possibility of doing an air drop. The rest of the team is pretty emphatic about not wanting to fall out of airplanes, but luckily Garrus knows of a group that can be paid to sneak them into downtown. For a minor fee he gives Ben the comm number and the ork arranges for both Doc and Mackle to get into Downtown while Blackjack and Ben glide effortlessly past the checkpoints with their fake SINs.