Ghost Cartels

Episode 16 - A Fistful Of Credsticks

Week commencing May 11th 2071

Surge took a call from a a Ms. Johnson of her acquaintance, inviting her and the team to a meeting at the Eye of the Needle about a job that would take them out of the Metroplex. Over a lovely luxury dinner, Ms. J laid out the job – travelling to LA on the Charisma Associates dime to guard eight cases of equipment (being borrowed from a runner named Slade) while they’re used in shooting Pandora’s new trid, A Fistful Of Credsticks. The pay was good at 750 per runner per day (working 8am-4pm), and Ms. Johnson was just so likeable that even Chase‘s attempts to charm more money out of her didn’t work. Ms. J explained that they’d be on the Charisma Associates payroll and managed by Jeremy Fermin for the week.

Having agreed to take the job, Ms. J provided the inventory of the cases:

Case 1: 2057 Red Samurai Armour with Katana
Case 2: 2057 Red Samurai Armour with Katana
Case 3: 2057 Red Samurai Armour with Katana
Case 4: 2057 Red Samurai Armour with Katana
Case 5: 2 macuahuitls, 1 obsidian knife
Case 6: Thunderstruck Gauss Rifle
Case 7: 4 × 6 shuriken
Case 8: Riot shield w/Red Samurai logo

Slade called you to arrange transport, with each team member supplying a SIN so that he could sort out work permits, etc. He explained that there would be space for one suitcase and hand luggage per runner, plus a maximum of two medium/large drones in total. After a night spent frantically packing and arranging people to look after family members/pets, the team met Slade at Sea-Tac Airport (where they got through customs thanks mainly to the Charisma Associates contracts linked to their SINs) and loaded onto the plane.

After an uneventful flight, they were met at El Toro Airport in LA by Slade’s contact Desperado, an elf in cowboy chic. He gave them all their P2.0 subscriptions, and the keycard for a black Rover Model 2068 SUV. Desperado explained that he would transport Slade’s gear to Studio 8, while the runners checked into Hotel Alternate, a mid-scale location with AR-themed rooms. Leto rode with Desperado to make sure he (or anyone else!) didn’t steal the crates: she was successful, and the crates remained unstolen!

During the rest of the team’s journey over to Studio 8, Leto got briefly swarmed by paparazzi drones (until they got bored and swarmed off) and then met up with James, an African-American male human techie who had been assigned to meet’n’greet. Seeing that the rest of the team weren’t there, James said he’d give Leto the tour later. In the meantime, he took her to Store 8a and handed her a keycard to get in. She and Desperado loaded the crates into one corner of the 20mx10m concrete box, and Leto discovered that the store room was insulated to stop wifi signals entering or leaving.

Episode 15 - Dirty Pretty Money

Week commencing 4th May 2071:

The team were approached by the Ms. Johnson who hired you for Stranger In Our House to take on another job for her. Following an e-vite to Tickler’s strip club Downtown, Ms. Johnson explained that her associates needed help persuading a financial consultant to work for them. Once the runners agreed in principle, including a price of 3,500¥ each with a 2,500¥ bonus per person if the job was completed within 24 hours, Ms. Johnson explained the situation. Evan Goldman works as a hedge fund manager for Brackhaven Investments and the job is to gather or create blackmail information on Goldman, and then serve as intermediaries for the operation itself.

Investigating Goldman revealed nothing obvious to blackmail him with at all; a workaholic seeking help from a psychologist and a family therapist, Evan’s only real passion aside from his job was his family, including his wife (an artist/homemaker) and three children, but his relationship with all of them was strained by his ridiculous work schedule. Evan has a sleep regulator and datajack, and works many hours at home as well as the time he spends in his office Downtown. Brahms’ attempt to hack the Central Home Node was successful, but he triggered an alert when hacking into Goldman’s personal commlink which led to the entire commlink being shut down.

Lacking any real material worth blackmailing, the team set about creating some instead. Procuring the services of a male oni 1 prostitute named Michel, and with Chase magically disguised as Goldman, the team filmed an extremely compromising sex tape featuring the two men engaging in lewd behaviour with the household’s Renraku Manservant-3 drone (hereafter known as “Fisto”). Slightly disturbed, but entirely impressed, by the depravity of the blackmail material, Ms. Johnson had the team deliver Goldman to a warehouse in the Verge (an area previously visited in both Episode 07 – Stranger In Our House and Episode 12 – Body Snatchers). Surveilling their private discussion using Stars’ Fly-Spy drone, the team discovered that Goldman was being tasked to launder a credstick containing 100,000¥ within 48 hours or else the video would be released to his family, relatives and work colleagues. Ms. Johnson offered the team another 3,500¥ each to return the sobbing hedge fund manager to his home and watch him for the next two days, which the team were easily able to achieve with the microphones and cameras they had already installed in the main social area, master bedroom and office in his home.

Stars bowed out at this point, due to other commitments, but the rest of the team watched Goldman’s daily routine, which was profoundly dull and normal for the first day. Brahms had set up an agent in Goldman’s commlink to forward any and all outgoing communications, which he got in place around lunchtime that first day. It revealed nothing particularly exciting except that he was very good at his job.

The next morning, however, Goldman was woken early and replied to the following message:

To: Evan Goldman
From: Capt. Jefferson Mackenzie, FBI Organised Crime Task Force (Seattle)

Mr. Goldman

Local Lone Star have forwarded your message to this office. We will be handling your case.

Please come to the FBI’s Seattle field office in the Federal Building Downtown at 1pm today so that we can discuss matters.

Capt. Mackenzie

The team immediately called Ms. Johnson with this news. She was obviously unhappy and had expected the team to report this sort of thing sooner, but seemed satisfied with the explanation that it had only just come to light. Ms. Johnson explained that the job had now changed, so that she either wanted Goldman and the credstick returned to her, or him killed and all the evidence eliminated – but that she realised that the team were squeamish about wetwork.

Acting swiftly, Surge and Leto broke into the Goldman residence whilst Evan was eating an early breakfast. Surge’s first taser dart didn’t put Goldman down, so Leto grabbed him whilst Surge put a second taser dart into him. He dropped to the ground, twitching and out cold, but the noise drew the attention of the rest of the family. Surge dragged Goldman outside, whilst Leto searched the home-office for the credstick to no avail.

Surge searched Goldman for the credstick, and then the two women rendezvoused in the garage whilst Chase lured Mrs. Goldman into the basement by impersonating her husband’s voice through one of Fisto’s external speakers. Surge, Leto and Goldman fled in Goldman’s car, whilst Chase drove off on Leto’s new motorbike – leaving Surge’s behind, near the house. Searching the car didn’t reveal the credstick either, but the team did notice Goldman’s clammy skin and flashing DocWagon band and correctly deduced that he was dead.

Chase and Leto headed back to the house on Leto’s motorbike, whilst Surge stayed in the car and contacted Kaz Yakamura (from Episode 12 – Body Snatchers). He offered to have his ghoul allies in the Verge dispose of Goldman’s body in exchange for a favour at some future point, to which Surge agreed on the team’s behalf. Leto snuck into the house whilst Lone Star officers were there taking statements from the family and she recovered the recording equipment, as well as searching the master bedroom for the first time (and the home-office for a second time) for the credstick, to no avail.

Ms. Johnson was surprised and impressed that you had killed Goldman (not realising that it was accidental) but disappointed that you had been unable to recover the credstick. After some hard negotiating by Chase, she agreed to pay a total of 12,000¥ (which the four people involved in this part of the mission split equally between them). Wanting to avoid direct association with the team so soon after a killing, she left the credstick with Piotr at a Tacoma café which Chase suggested.

1: the native ork metavariant of the Japanese archipelago, boasting bright red, blue, or orange skin colours, slightly protuberant eyes, enlarged pointed ears, curving horns, and the large build characteristic of ork metavariants.

Episode 14 - All In The Family

Week commencing 27th April 2071

Chase was contacted by his friend Piotr (from Chasing The Dragon) who explained that a Vory lideri called Irina Makarova wanted to meet with the team about a job. Piotr made the arrangements and the meeting took place in a small coffee shop in Tacoma. When Irina (a Russian woman in a conservative business suit) arrived, every single other person in the coffee shop stood up and left.

She explained that your history had shown her two things: first, that you were the ideal team for a job she needed doing, and second, that you were in no position to refuse her offer. She made reference to Leto‘s blog, and then explained the job. A man named Robert “Nobby” Dashwood was about to be released from McMillin Correctional Facility in Puyallup after some time away in this “soft” prison. He was a strong ally of the Gianelli family and would be deployed rapidly by the Mafia in their three-way war against the Vory and the Shotozumi-gumi due to his expertise and level of respect. The job, put simply, would be to extract Dashwood and bring him to Irina so that he could be turned. Failing that, she made clear that she would rather that no one could have him if the Vory couldn’t. She offered a total fee of 25,000¥ which the team accepted without negotiation.

Once Irina had left, Chase revealed that Robert “Nobby” Dashwood was his father, although there was no indication that Irina knew of the link between the two men. Some research indicated that McMillin was actually a pretty slack prison, relying mainly on its inhospitable location and acceptance of bribes for security. Leto and Surge investigated the locale, discovering that the only access road crossed across a bridge over a toxic riverbed, whilst Chase and Stars looked into places Nobby was likely to be taken, including the Crime Mall in Puyallup and various nightclubs Downtown.

Brahms’ hacking revealed that Nobby’s release had already been brought forward by eighteen hours, and so he put it an hour further forward and had Leto collect Nobby, whilst the others raced back with the vehicles. As they were leaving, the team passed several heavily-modified motorbikes and a pick-up truck, and some research revealed that they belonged to a shadowrunning team headed by Pachinko Mike. As the team left, they saw a couple of members of Mike’s team get into an altercation with the prison officers as their intended quarry – Nobby – was nowhere to be found.

You delivered Nobby to Irina without incident, and got paid in full.

Episode 13 - Something Stinks

Week commencing 20th April 2071

Leto received a private message via her blog, inviting the team to a meeting about a job at the Stouffer-Madison Hotel, Downtown. Brahms tried to track it back a bit, but discovered that it passed through at least one anonymiser. Chase, Leto, Stars and Surge attended the meet physically, whereas Brahms telecommuted in as normal. It was apparent that the majority of front-of-house staff at the hotel were human or elven and predominantly Anglo, whereas once the runners had their RFID tags and got out of the elevator on the 16th floor, they saw an ork janitor doing his best to look inconspicuous whilst actually slacking off work.

In room 1607, they were “greeted” by a burly Japanese man with prominent and visible Yakuza tattoos over his arms and chest. He introduced himself as Kosuke Tomizawa, oyabun of the Kenran-kai. He (manually!) switched on an old-style flatscreen trid with a data-cable plugged into it, and it cut to a live picture of two different people in split-screen. On one side was Mercury, still handcuffed to a hospital bed and lying unconscious; on the other was a male Native American elf who looked like he had been beaten up before being duct-taped to a chair – Stars identified him as her brother, who had been missing for a while. Tomizawa asked the runners to provide three numbers, from one to five. He repeated those numbers into a microphone attached to the flatscreen, and on each side of the picture, a hand appeared in shot and showed those numbers.

Satisfied that the runners understood the situation, Tomizawa outlined the “deal.” Since the events of Chasing The Dragon, Kazuya Hotomi had been offered a deal by the District Attorney; in exchange for giving federal evidence against the Shotozumi-gumi, he would walk free into a Witness Protection scheme. His deposition was to be held 48 hours from this meeting (i.e. 6pm on Wednesday 22nd April) and the runners were to kill him before then. If they did not do so, both Mercury and Swift River would be killed. Tomizawa made very clear that he would not offer any financial reward for the task at hand when asked by Chase – the only member of the group he was willing to interact with directly, referring to Leto as “the elf bitch.”

Brahms was able to track the Dragon down to a Lone Star police station in Renton, and got a floorplan for it. Surge discovered that, due to jurisdictional conflicts, the Dragon’s deposition would be held at the Federal Building, Downtown. Using his experience, Chase established that the most likely means of getting him there would be a Black Mariah USPTV, supported by two patrol cars (probably GMC Patrol-1s) and 4-8 motorcyclist outriders on Dodge Guardians. Stars found out from her contacts that the three locations most likely to be being used by the Yakuza to hold the captives (based on the medical-looking backdrops) were Cougar Mountain Hospital in Bellevue, Zalensky’s Electronics in Tacoma, and the Filthy Dragon in Auburn.

Surge and Leto headed to a cop bar downtown, where Surge revealed herself as Lacey Stevens, former Banger for the Horizon Chasers Urban Brawl team, based out of LA. This got her a lot of attention, which Leto used to steal a cop’s commlink (and switch it off). After that, they headed to the hospital, where Brahms had identified that Building S was currently not in use by hospital authorities. Sneaking around, Leto discovered that one ward on the third floor was the only place in the building with lights on, and she saw three Yakuza guards and what looked like Mercury’s hospital bed set-up. Surge and Leto decided to leave the hospital for now…

Meanwhile, Chase and Stars headed to Tarislar in Puyallup in search of the Laésa – Stars’ best lead for her brother’s most recent whereabouts. Posing as a Salish elf, Chase was able to learn that Swift River had fallen in with the Laésa shortly after coming to Seattle, working for them as a runner and becoming addicted to various drugs that made him feel like he was a shaman (deepweed, tempo, etc.). He disappeared towards the end of the previous week, making off with a “brick of laés” that belonged to the gang/syndicate. They then headed to Tacoma to check out Zalensky’s Electronics, where they established that Swift River was not present, and set off for Auburn.

Brahms contacted Kaz Yakamura of the Komun’go Ring for advice, who explained that it was most likely that the captives were being held in two different locations. The aim there would be that if someone attempted a rescue at one location, word would reach the other location and the other hostage could be killed and the location vacated before help arrived. Kaz wouldn’t accept payment for his help, preferring instead that the team owe him a favour in the future.

There was a great deal of discussion about whether to kill or spare the Dragon – after all, he was a child-murderer and former assassin who was going to effectively go free. But equally, there was little enthusiasm to do the Yakuza’s dirty work for them, especially where wetwork was involved. Chase refused to involve any of his contacts in the matter, whereas Brahms suggested ways to use a Lone Star Dispatcher and/or a Federal Agent of his acquaintance to facilitate matters. It was commonly agreed that the authorities were vanishingly unlikely to help Mercury (an escaped felon) or Swift River (an illegal immigrant) out of the mess they were in.

After an extended conflab, the group came to a few conclusions and made a few decisions (albeit not unanimously):

  • Kosuke Tomizawa was unlikely to keep his word and return the hostages intact, regardless of what the runners did;
  • Starting a war with the Yakuza was unlikely to go well for the team;
  • The Dragon surviving to testify might be the best chance the group would have to damage the Yakuza;
  • Thus rescuing the hostages, rather than killing the Dragon, was preferable;
  • Chase revealed that Mercury had “minimal brain activity”;
  • This meant that she would need a lot of medical attention, which would mean either returning her to Lone Star custody or finding and funding a potentially very extended hospital stay for her;
  • Thus, assuming that Swift River could be found, the objective would be simply to rescue him, leaving both Mercury and the Dragon to their respective fates.

Nevertheless, Surge and Leto went to the Lone Star station where the Dragon was being held and did some recon, identifying the external camera points and possible ways to gain entry. Surge spotted a drone rack on the roof, and Leto noted a helipad and rooftop access door up there too. They decided that trying to open the garage door directly would be doomed to failure, but getting hold of an appropriate RFID transponder might do the trick – as would breaking in through one of the person-sized doors. Surge also suggested that she could leverage her fame and popularity in Urban Brawl circles to get an invite to the shooting range inside the station, but that would come with the risk of having exposed her identity if things went south.

Chase and Stars went to the Filthy Dragon in Auburn, a real dive bar with few redeeming features. Disguised as a street tough, Chase made quite an impression with the patrons, and discovered that that place had Yakuza backing and operated a chop-shop behind the scenes. Stars’ Fly-Spy drone was able to get into the store room in the back, but was stymied by a closed door marked “management.” Eventually, Chase disguised himself as a member of staff, leading to some confusion as he bumped into the person he was impersonating, but after some chicanery and judicious running away, he opened the “management” door, beyond which was a Japanese man in a business suit doing some work in AR behind a desk, with an elevator door immediately behind him. One of Chase’s spirits confirmed that Swift River was below ground here, and that there were six other heavily-cybered people with him.

Meanwhile, Brahms hacked the commlink that Leto had stolen from a Lone Star cop whilst Surge used her fame to distract them. Unfortunately, it had received a remote deactivation code (presumably as a result of having been reported stolen), and the primary user’s data had been deleted. At Surge’s request, he contacted an arms dealer contact, and got hold of some APDS ammo for Surge’s heavy pistol, SMG and assault rifle.

Leto and Surge came to the Filthy Dragon so that Leto could investigate the rooftop whilst Surge made herself at home in the bar. Leto found a really dangerous-looking fire escape, and the maintenance access to the elevator mechanism, which had quite a high-end maglock as well as an old-style mechanical lock. With all of this established, the team repaired to a nearby coffin motel, where they slept until about 1pm, reconvening in a coffee shop nearby to discuss their plan. Chase received a death-threat email during this time, apparently sent from his own commlink.

After gathering some gear and making the final insertion plan, the team arrived back at the Filthy Dragon about 1930hrs (half an hour before sunset). Leto climbed up to the roof and started opening the mechanism for the lift, while Surge climbed up after her. Stars and Chase moved into position, with Chase disguised as a Yak opening the door and hoping to distract the Yakuza hacker fiddling with his AR in there. The hacker spotted Leto and Surge drop into the lift and managed to hit an alarm before Stars’s Doberman opened fire, wounding him. The hacker returned fire with an SMG and destroyed the Doberman, so Chase painted his insides across the lift door and gave his spirits the command to attack.

As Surge and Leto travelled downstairs in the lift, one of Chase’s spirits (Bjarni) was successful in downing the Yakuza guard in the room with Swift River, but the other guard was able to discorporate the spirit which attacked him with a well-placed burst of autofire. Bjarni moved onto this guard and dropped him before he could do any more damage, though.

Surge’s exit from the lift saw her open with a hail of APDS which shredded one of the Yak guards in the waiting room, who had taken cover. Leto sprinted around the corner, aiming to get to Swift River, but was intercepted by an angry-looking man with a katana which she barely managed to avoid. In the ensuing melee, Leto was able to land a few blows but did little damage, whilst the Yakuza leader was badly slowed up by a hail of bullets from Surge after she’d finished the other waiting-room guard off. Still, sounds from the next room indicated that someone was in with Swift River, and Swift River was doing badly out of the whole thing.

Brahms, communicating via a jury-rigged set-up between a repeater drone on the roof and a micro-tapper drone connected by fibre-optic cable through the lift shaft, kept trying to hack the various commlinks he found in the basement – with nothing to distinguish them, however, he was picking them at random. Each of the three he hacked into revealed itself to belong to yet another recently-killed Yakuza member.

Leto kept the Yakuza leader busy whilst Surge stormed into the room where Swift River was being held captive. She put herself between the murderous Yakuza kumi-in (whose katana was still dripping blood from the mortal wound he’d dealt Stars’ brother) and his intended victim, slapping a trauma patch onto Swift River. She dropped him to the ground with some more autofire, not pausing even after he got back up and switched to an assault rifle of his own. Once she’d finished the kumi-in off, she came outside and killed the leader as well, leaving Leto covered in gore as she collected up some of the Yakuza warriors’ assault rifles.

Upstairs, Chase tried and failed to summon another spirit, whilst Stars used her Steel Lynx to block a door as another Doberman came up behind. She launched a rotodrone and detected the sound of inbound Lone Star vehicles, and thus used her rotodrone to cause a car to swerve into the way of oncoming traffic to block the road. Not satisfied with her results, as the car started to drive out of the way, she launched a spray of suppressive fire into the path of the Lone Star vehicle, causing it to crash into a fire hydrant, effectively stopping its progress from there on out.

The bar patrons, having heard the autofire from the manager’s office, tried to break down the door to get involved, eventually shoving Stars’ Steel Lynx out of the way. She retorted with suppressive fire, causing the interlopers first to cower and then to flee. She brought the van up as Surge, Leto and Swift River came up in the lift – Leto freaking out even more as the hacker’s dead body slumped through the doors as they opened. Surge carried Swift River into the van and the med-chair there, and came back for the ruined Doberman. Chase picked up the hacker’s SMG, emptying the clip after the fleeing patrons and shouting in Japanese about a Yakuza vendetta against the Kenran-kai. Stars started first aid on Swift River, whilst Leto climbed up to the roof and recovered the fibre-optic cabling before jumping gracefully down to her exit vehicle, Stars’ Mercury Comet. Chase joined her, whilst Stars and Surge left in the van with Swift River. They agreed to meet at Lazy G’s place, due to their various injuries.

Lazy G wanted to keep Swift River overnight, reporting that his left arm was completely useless and had to be amputated. After some discussion about whether to go cyber, off-the-rack Type O, or clonal, Stars decided to pay for a Type O replacement, which she had rush-delivered. In the meantime, Chase and Leto went back to Tarislar and bought some Laés to ease Swift River’s withdrawal symptoms while Surge did overwatch. Once everyone was rested and had been attended to by either the med-chair or Lazy G, and after Lazy had attached Swift River’s new arm, the team discussed what to do next. The consensus was not to try to kill the Dragon, and to accept the fact that the Kenran-kai were likely not to take it well.

Episode 12 - Body Snatchers

Week commencing 13th April 2071

Stars and Leto received a call from Running Fox (Ted’s friend from Episode 02 – First Run), inviting the team to a meeting with his boss about a job. Agreeing, Stars met with Running Fox to get the RFID tags necessary to get into 77, the exclusive club in Renton.

The Johnson was a thin troll called Kaz Yakamura (second-in-command of the Komun’go), who Stars and Leto recognised from Episode 07 – Stranger In Our House. He introduced himself to everyone and thanked the team for the jobs they’d done for him before. He explained that he had a job he wanted you to do, for which he was offering 20,000¥ – the job was recovering the corpse of a journalist called Jania Shields and delivering it to some Tamanous ghouls in the Verge, Redmond, as well as deleting all copies of the autopsy data. Kaz also offered an additional 10,000¥ for copies of Jania’s research notes. Once the team accepted the terms, Kaz gave them Jania’s DocWagon RFID ident and a credstick for the ghouls.

Brahms was able to locate the RFID tag at the DocWagon clinic on the western end of the Tacoma docks. Some Matrix browsing revealed that Jania’s mother was a committed Jehovah’s Witness and had filed for an injunction against the Metroplex and Lone Star to prevent an insurance-mandated autopsy from happening. Surge researched who the courier firms that usually serviced the clinic were, and acquired a jumpsuit in their livery (while Brahms created a file to achieve much the same for Leto’s Chameleon Suit), and also got a copy of the layout of the clinic.

Brahms’ micro-tapper bug (under Stars’ direction) nipped into one of the cameras, allowing him to hack in. Immediately before using the exploit he found, he gave a command to his botnet to place a series of emergency calls within the hospital’s catchment area, causing three of the four High Threat Response teams on site to scramble to deal with these issues. Using that opportunity, Brahms and Stars took out the three security spiders and Stars used her control over the security system to open various doors as Surge and Leto snuck in. Both infiltrators were under the influence of tempo, thus noticing the two goose-spirits patrolling the perimeter.

Down in the basement morgue, Surge rapidly incapacitated the coroner with her taser, while Leto gathered up Jania Shields’ personal effects. The autopsy was just about to begin, so the two women got the corpse into a body bag and onto a gurney for transport, leaving the coroner on the slab and an optical tap into one of the nearby datalines. As they exited the lift on the ground floor, alarms started sounding as another spider arrived in the security node. Stars started ejecting clips from the drone defences and keeping the one remaining HTR team locked in the dock, before allowing them into the basement lift and using the built-in neurostun delivery system to incapacitate them. Brahms quickly banned the fourth spider from the node, whilst Surge punched a doctor in the face who was trying to get her and Leto to obey the lockdown.

Out in the parking lot, Surge and Leto encountered the goose-spirits who materialised to stop them escaping with the body. Leto concentrated on dodging and escaping, while Surge fought back and Stars used one of the on-rails drones’ LMGs to (eventually) neutralise the threat by disrupting the two spirits. Jania’s body was rapidly loaded into Stars’ van, and the team headed to the Verge in Redmond to deliver it to the Tamanous organleggers, whilst Brahms focused on hacking Jania’s commlink.

In the Verge, the ghouls claimed that the credstick contained only half the money they were owed, but soon gave up when the team threatened to call the Komun’go to verify, and so Surge and Leto just made a very hasty exit from the vile creatures. Brahms found out that Jania’s data on the investigation was at “Sinn’s place” and some more hacking located Sinn back on the Tacoma docks, in Ragers turf. Just as everyone was heading home, Brahms read one of Sinn’s messages in which someone warned him that the Ragers were on their way to mess him up, so the team high-tailed it over there.

As the team arrived, a bunch of Ragers piled out of two cars and towards Sinn’s building. Surge threw down some suppressing fire with her assault rifle, forcing most of them to ground but wounding one who wasn’t quick enough. Leto ran up the side of the building and onto Sinn’s floor, while Stars’ rotodrone provided overwatch. Brahms called Sinn from Jania’s commlink to get him to co-operate with Leto, which mostly just terrified him, so Leto grabbed him and his duffel bag and jumped out of the window to the ground four metres below – neither Leto nor Sinn were injured!

The Ragers started firing back at Surge, so she started targeting them, and between her and Stars’ drone neutralised all of them bar one, who surrendered. On the way away from the scene, Sinn revealed that he was a tempo dealer and sold all his stash to Leto and Surge – he had been buying from the Ragers, who had turned on him for some reason. It turned out that Jania’s investigation was into someone she called the Ash Killer, a serial killer focused on killing tempo users and burning their remains to ash. The team dropped Sinn in Chulos turf in Puyallup and called Kaz to let him know they succeeded.

They met him that evening at 77 and handed over all the data, getting paid in full. Kaz was very clear that he was impressed by their work and looked forward to hiring them again.

Episode 11 - Chasing The Dragon

Week Commencing 6th April 2071

The team was asked for by name – specifically Baron, Leto, Mercury and Stars. You were invited to a meeting at a sleazy dive bar in Tacoma that evening. It turned out that the Johnson you were to meet was Lady Jade (from The Grab), who offered you 45,000¥ as a team to find out who killed Catherine Westmore, capture them and deliver them to her. She was offering half the pay up front, and half after the job – negotiation led to an offer that she would provide some or all of the second half of the payment in the form of a weapons shipment, provided to you at cost. She also suggested Takeshi Modori as an initial suspect.

Legwork revealed Catherine Westmore’s father to be someone called Kazuya “The Dragon” Hotomi, a Yakuza hitman who worked for the Shotozumi-gumi. He murdered his best friend’s family in retaliation for said friend giving up lots of sensitive intel to Lone Star about the Yakuza drug trade in the city. This friend was none other than Takeshi Modori, and this is apparently a long-standing blood feud. Takeshi Modori is also Lady Jade’s former lover – she left the Yakuza because they ordered the death of his family. The relationship between the two of them ended at that point, however.

Brahms hacked the Central Home Node of the Westmore residence; it had been unoccupied for three and a half weeks and had little or no useful data on it. Brahms was able to get Donna Westmore’s commcode but she was not taking calls from commcodes she didn’t recognise.

You were also able to find out that Takeshi was holed up with a talismonger called Tsurayuki in the International District. After scoping the area out, and noticing how a) Japanese and b) human everyone seemed to be, Chase went in – aware that the lore store was under Shotozumi protection. Tsurayuki was initially very evasive, but eventually invited Chase and friends (in the guise of Leto and Surge) upstairs to meet Takeshi. He made them promise to hear Takeshi out before doing anything.

Takeshi was in bed, grievously wounded. His chest was bandaged – the dressing caked in dried blood. Takeshi looked white as a sheet and seemed devoid of joy. He explained that he had been present when Catherine Westmore died, but that he was not responsible for her death. He had planned to kill the girl, in vengeance for her father murdering Takeshi’s family – but he couldn’t bring himself to end a child’s life. As he was lowering his rifle, he heard another shot ring out and saw Catherine crumple to the floor. He ran to where the shot came from and encountered Kazuya “The Dragon” Hotomi (Catherine’s father) leaving the same place. Kazuya pulled out his pistol and shot Takeshi three times in the chest, leaving him for dead.

Takeshi’s belief is that a “mutual friend” of his and Kazuya’s had the girl kidnapped to get at Kazuya. Rather than capitulating to whatever demands the mutual friend might have made, Kazuya’s pride drove him to kill his own daughter in order to remove the leverage. Takeshi was able to provide a video-only (no audio) recording of the whole thing; Chase checked with some contacts and his story seemed to bear up against the facts.

As you left, Tsurayuki took you to one side and told you all that he believed that Kazuya had holed up with the Vory v Zakone. He also asked that you not be kind in how you treat Kazuya – it turns out that Takeshi is Tsurayuki’s nephew and Tsurayuki is quite protective of his family, aside from being a powerful Shinto magician. Surge called in a favour from a contact and got the details of Piotr, a teenaged ork shestiorka (bag-man or gopher) for the syndicate.

Leto went into the Westmore residence again with Brahms’ micro-tapper bug, so Brahms could place a call to Donna Westmore from her CHN. He pretended to be a plumber sent to deal with a leakage there, and was quickly shouted off the phone, but got enough information to hack her commlink later if he was so inclined. Leto retrieved the bug and got away clean.

The team decided to go ahead with the extraction…

After more research and much caution, including Leto and Surge disguising themselves as Japanese women, Chase (disguised as someone of Russian extraction) arranged a meeting with Piotr. The scrawny teenaged ork was grateful for the hot meal Chase provided, as well as the 100¥ he was paid. He told Chase that the Dragon was under the protection of Vasili (from Episode 01 – Freedom) and one of Vasili’s gangs, called the Red Hand, on Pier 46 in the Tacoma docks. Using Chase’s spirits and Surge’s and Leto’s recon capabilities, it was established that Kazuya was essentially as far away as possible.

Pier 46

There was a kind of “checkpoint” consisting of four gangers with AK97 carbine SMGs about halfway along the pier, another four wandering the pier as a mob/clump, and a couple of gangers on the second rooftop from the top. Piotr’s intelligence put the entire gang at about 20 people.

The team successfully extracted the Dragon from the warehouse, making good use of Neuro-stun grenades and gel rounds to incapacitate the guards; Chase scared several gangers into running off the pier and into the sea. With minimal fuss and basically no muss (except for Chase, who had been badly shot up), the team got away with the target.

Brahms contacted Lady Jade for a rendezvous location whilst Stars tended to Chase’s wounds. Jade replied in text format rather than voice, giving the location as the warehouse where Catherine was dropped off in The Grab. Getting closer, Stars, Leto and Surge spotted the signs of a Federated-Boeing ambush and so resumed communication with Jade, which sparked an attack led by Frost and the Trinity.

Chase set his storm spirit to crash the helicopter, and thus it set about engulfing Deimos, the onboard rigger, in its noxious aura. Diva, the Trinity mage, cast a Lightning Bolt at Stars’ van before appearing with an HMG in the helicopter’s side door, whilst Jackhammer dropped out of the helicopter to engage Surge. Simultaneously, a van full of F-B security personnel moved in to engage Stars’ van. Brahms tried to hack into the helicopter, determined to claim it as his own.

One of Stars’ drones dealt with Diva in straightforward fashion, leaving her to be flung out of the helicopter when Deimos was knocked out and the storm spirit caused an electrical fault to develop, which led directly to the chopper’s tailspin and crash. Stars’ other drone swapped its gel for regular ammo and poured twenty rounds into the enemy van’s engine block, causing it too to crash. Surge took Jackhammer on personally, dropping him with Stick’n’Shock, before having to switch to regular ammo to strike at a retreating Frost. Leto managed to sneak away under a hail of suppressive fire.

After the team had fled with the Dragon still in the boot of Chase’s hired car, Brahms reported a communication from “Lady Jade” which indicated that Jade had been rendered incommunicado and her commlink usurped by Donna Westmore, who had presumably organised the ambush. After much deliberation about whether to rescue Lady Jade, take money for killing the Dragon, or deliver him to the Star, the team opted to hand him over for arrest. Although the financial reward was meagre, they had a clear conscience.

Episode 10 - On The Run

Week commencing 30th March 2071:

After a while spent laying low and deciding on the way forward, the three surviving members of the team (Chase, Leto and Stars) started looking for work, and were invited to meet Mr. Johnson at Infinity, a hot new Downtown nightclub. When the three of them got there and headed to the back room, they were met by a flamboyant troll with gold-tipped ram’s horns. He explained that the job involved recovering some stolen property – and old-style optical data disc and the data on it (plus any copies). It had been stolen from his employer, along with a bunch of less important stuff, and it’s very important that the data and the disc be returned safe and sound. They agreed a price of 20,000¥, half up front, to get the disc back.

Realising that they may need extra support, the team asked around their contacts for potential new co-workers. Stars found a hacker called Brahms, whilst Chase found a razorgirl called Surge. Offering each of them 3,000¥ for the task, they signed up. Research began in earnest, and the team eventually discovered that Nabo – ork rap sensation and former Black Fangs ganger – had apparently been offered a slice of some music data. Further research revealed that he was playing a gig in a warehouse in the Redmond Barrens the following night, and that there was little or no security on the place currently. One of Chase’s spirits tracked Nabo to a huge block party in Black Fangs turf, celebrating his plan to leave for LA after the gig. When the runners arrived, Nabo was “entertaining” three orc women in one of the more intact buildings, but Stars was able to get a drone in there to make recordings and wait for him to turn his commlink on. Surge did manage to get inside the building by posing as a potential groupie, but fled when she realised quite what was going on.

The next day, the team did a bit more research and learnt that Nabo was going to be at a pop-up store in a Downtown mall doing a signing/promo session. So everyone (except Brahms, who stayed remote) went to the mall, and Brahms hacked Nabo’s commlink. He found an email in the trash folder with the initial offer from an anonymous source, which Nabo had forwarded to his friend Jager as a joke. Chase intimidated Jager to discover that neither Nabo nor Jager had taken the offer up, and so Stars traced the anonymous email back to a dingy hacker club in Renton called the Cathode Glow.

Leto and Surge went inside, where they instantly felt out of place; the interior of the Glow was lots of old tech (some of which concealed cutting-edge stuff) and a number of hacker types who did not seem very welcoming. You learnt that the hacker you were looking for was called Zipper – a dwarf woman whose real name was Willi Ishikawa, who had a gambling problem. Also learning that she’s a lesbian, Surge and Leto faked a lovers’ tiff so Surge could attract Zipper’s attention. After some awkward flirting, Surge arranged a date at 8pm the same evening in the Cathode Glow. Brahms tried hacking Zipper’s commlink, but she noticed and switched it off, preventing further investigation.

You were able to discover, however, that K-Spot (AKA Kerwin Loomis) was the seller. Chase placed a call allowing Brahms and Stars to track him down to a crappy bar at the edge of the Redmond Barrens. Intimidating a couple of local Thrashers thugs, you got led to the back room of the Coda, but K-Spot fled rapidly through the back exit.

He ended up in the middle of a firefight, as a rival team from Shangri-La Productions had been hired to grab him. They sprung their ambush, but Surge and Stars managed to hold them off, although Surge’s attempt to incapacitate K-Spot killed him instantly; a combination of massive blood loss and a heart attack from the shock. You grabbed the disc off his cooling body, and went to a meeting with the flamboyant troll Johnson at an upscale wine bar, where you got a bonus for your discretion and speed.

Episode 09 - Colour or Creed

Week commencing 16th March 2071

Leto was contacted via ShadowSEA for a B&E job. You met with an elf male (whose first language was probably Sperethiel) who introduced himself as Samriel. Leto was extremely taken with him. He wanted you to steal the Weeping Stone of Ta’bel from an old shadowrunner called Morphine. You agreed a price of 50,000¥, half up front, and that you would deliver within five days.

Legwork told you that Morphine had turned fixer after the Crash 2.0, having previously been a DocWagon employee called Doctor Bob who got some moderate fame in 2047 and received the Weeping Stone in Dunkelzahn’s will. He lived in a very secure apartment building in Medina, Bellevue.

Opting to do recon by social engineering, you discovered that there was a vacant condo in the same building and contacted the managing agents, Anderson Realty, for a showing. The place was very secure indeed. Leto snuck into Morphine’s apartment after it had been scouted by one of Stars’ drones, and found the stone inside the den, which had been very well guarded up to that point. She grabbed it and ran without warning, rendering Mercury (who was in the building’s security node) unable to intervene as she was attacked by the local spider.

Baron used a spirit to possess Leto to help her get away safely, and engaged some of the guards themselves. Eventually, Chase got away on foot, Leto and Stars fled in Stars’ van, and Mercury and Baron fled in Baron’s car. Unfortunately, both sets of cars were chased by Lone Star. Stars was able to evade pursuit, but Mercury and Baron were run off the road; Baron was killed instantly, and Mercury was hospitalised in a coma.

Chase met with Samriel to deliver the Stone and get paid. Samriel hinted that he had worked with Leto before. Leto found a post on her blog, implicating the team in a break-in at the Cavilard Research Centre (between Medina and Beaux Arts in Bellevue) around the same time as they stole the Weeping Stone.

Episode 08 - The Grab

Week commencing Monday 9th March 2071

  • Approached via Heliox for a meeting with Lady Jade
  • She offered you a job extracting a girl named Catherine Westmore and ensuring she remained unharmed before delivering her to a second team in a Redmond Barrens warehouse within three days
  • You agreed a rate of 35,000¥ for the job
  • Chase refused to take part
  • You discovered that Catherine’s mother was Donna Westmore, and that Catherine was born blind. Her mother paid top dollar for cybernetic correction. Catherine attends Holm Elementary School and her mother has hired a bodyguard.
  • Donna Westmore is an aeronautical engineer for Federated-Boeing, working on some serious projects. She used to be on the guest list for many of the hottest clubs in Downtown‘s International District, which is very rare for a gaijin – but she was struck off all those lists a few weeks ago, around the time she hired her daughter’s bodyguard
  • The bodyguard is an ex-runner called Jack McPherson; his handle was Frost. He used to be UCAS Special Forces but left and formed a running team called the Trinity. He left the Trinity on good terms when work was slow and took the bodyguard job – a pay cut, but the money was steady.
  • The Trinity consists of Jackhammer (troll, face), Deimos (human, rigger) and Diva (human, combat mage) – the last two are a couple. They’re highly sought after as a team, as they are also ex-Special Forces black-ops trained.
  • Lady Jade is an independent arms dealer with a respectable market share. She pays the Blood Mountain Boys to protect a lot of her shipments. She used to work as a fixer for the Shotozumi-gumi but walked out with enough power to make herself stable – word is that she didn’t leave willingly, and there is plenty of bad blood.
  • Investigation of Holm Elementary School revealed that it was very very well-guarded, with a private contract with Knight Errant – you decided against trying to snatch Catherine from school
  • Frost collected Catherine from school and took her home. He cooked dinner whilst she did her homework. After she went to bed, the Trinity all turned up and started playing poker.
  • Mercury hacked into the Central Home Node and took control of the cameras, editing the footage and keeping an eye on things
  • Stars provided the getaway car (after Mercury hacked in) and cover with a pursuit drone. She also planned and checked the route.
  • Leto broke into the house (after Baron cast an Improved Invisibility spell on her) – leaving the front panel of the door’s maglock unscrewed – and also opened the maglock on Catherine’s bedroom window
  • Baron instructed one of his lwa to ride Catherine, and together she and Leto snuck out of the window and into the waiting car
  • The car ride over was straightforward enough, and Leto became visible partway through
  • Once you arrived at the warehouse, Leto and Catherine went inside. They were greeted by two dwarves and an ork, who paid Leto in full
  • Mercury and Stars scrubbed all traces of their computer crimes

Three days later (Thursday 12th March), this news story appeared, detailing how Catherine was killed by a sniper at the conclusion of a 48-hour ransom ordeal that left all the kidnappers dead.

Episode 07 - Stranger In Our House

Week commencing Monday 2nd March 2071

  • Stars, Mercury, Leto and Baron contacted by Angstrom – someone had been trying to contact Mephistopheles with a job offer
  • Chase contacted by Cody offering a job with a team lacking someone with his skillset
  • Meet with Ms. Johnson at a back alley strip club called Tickler’s in Downtown; Ms. Johnson is a raven-haired East Asian woman dressed in a see-through lace top with underwear to match
  • She provided several pictures of two men dressed in AmerInd-inspired gang attire. Mixed in with the pictures are public domain sat-images of various buildings near the Seattle/Salish-Shidhe border. The file also included a disposable commcode number for Ms. Johnson.
  • She told you that the images were of two lieutenants and safe houses belonging to the First Nations gang. The job was to tail these two specific members, Alec Littletree and Xa Firebird, for a week. She wanted you to source what the men are up to, what assets they have, how each target is earning his money, who their contacts are, and if they’re connected to other crime outfits. You were not to interact with them in any way.
  • Some legwork and common sense led you to the Verge in Redmond, existing on a rough strip of land about 2 miles wide, between the Barrens and Salish territory. The whole place reeked of desperation and was controlled by the First Nations. It’s a full-on Z-zone, with badly static Matrix access at the best of times
  • You identified which of the five safehouses held each of your targets
  • You planted microphone bugs in these two houses, and a couple in some of the others
  • You discovered that Xa Firebird is a drug dealer who haunts the circuit around the University
  • You discovered that Alex Littletree is a drug dealer who haunts the circuit in various clubs and vice-dens in Renton and Tacoma; apparently he is bringing in loads and loads of money
  • Both are involved in pushing a very new Bio-Awakened-Drug called Tempo; apparently he is not bringing in very much money at all
  • You followed Xa Firebird to a party on campus and discovered that he emails a blind & anonymous email account every couple of days, and that his email has high-level Firewall and programs that are all legally acquired (from the cheapest vendor for their level). You also learnt that he is heavily cybered: SenseSation Livecaster cybersuite [Cybereyes (Rating 3, w/ eyelight, image link, low-light, recording unit; Cyberears (Rating 2, w/ audio enhancement 2, damper, recording unit, spatial recognizer; Simrig, Radar Sensor (Rating 3)], Reaction Enhancers (Rating 2), Wired Reflexes (Rating 1), Retractable spur connected to implanted autoinjector – expensive stuff for a ganger
  • You also downloaded his simrig recordings for the last day and his contact list and call log
  • You used a repeater drone to get some decent Matrix coverage for the bugs
  • You trailed Littletree to a meeting in a Tacoma bar called the Back Alley that he didn’t want anyone in his gang to know about. He met with a huge African-American male human, flanked by two male Caucasian orks, all wearing black-and-grey gang colours. Littletree handed over a briefcase full of tempo, his compatriots handed over several high-value credsticks and they went their separate ways
  • You also spotted a car spying on the meeting. An East Asian man in a business suit was taking photos using a big camera, which you were able to get the pictures from
  • You observed a clandestine meeting – and torrid sexual encounter – between Xa Firebird and a woman he called “Carla” but who used an alias (“Alice Arnold”) to book the motel room at Harrington’s. She referred to him as “John” and you surmised that Xa Firebird was actually an undercover cop and that “Carla” was his handler.
  • You discovered that the gang was due to pick up a shipment of tempo, so both of your targets were confined to safehouses. However, Xa Firebird trailed the van containing Blood-of-the-Buffalo and key First Nations soldiers to an extraterritorial KondOrchid shipping centre in Everett. There you watched Firebird spying on an exchange of significant quantities of cash (millions of nuyen) for tempo. The other side in this deal were led by a troll called Kaz Yakamura, and one of his lackeys was Running Fox (one of the Komun’go’s “Stand-Over-Men” who hired you for your first job).
  • You reported back to your Johnson, who offered you an extra 10k to kill Xa Firebird; you refused, and she said that she would hire someone else to do it instead.
  • You rendezvoused with your Johnson, and handed over your full dossiers on Alec Littletree and Xa Firebird; she paid you in full and you parted amicably

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