Pawn to Rook 4 — Behind the Curtain

The young man surveyed the options that were available to him and took his time about it. The waiter, generally impatient, waited to take his order. There was something about him that gave the waiter pause. He was about to tell the patron that he would be back to take his order. The young man simply held up his finger while, causing the waiter to stop before he even spoke. The young man was dressed in an expensive dark blue suit with matching tie and shining black shoes. His dirty blonde hair was clean cut and styled to perfection. He had a rough start of a beard growing on his chiseled chin. He looks at the waiter with his sharp blue eyes and simply says “I will have the strip steak, real meat, medium rare with the blue cheese butter spread, again with real butter. Grilled asparagus, baked potato and a bottle of the 2013 red burgundy cabernet sauvignon.” The waiter took the order. “I would like the order delivered to my room please” and he closes the AR menu.

Yes sir,” the waiter says to the young man as he took the details.

The young man gets up and makes his way out of the restaurant and to the hotel parlor a couple of buildings down. He walked in, nodding at the guards by the door, and heads through the lobby and up the stairs. He got to his room and enters in with his keycard, looking around before he steps through the threshold. She was there sitting on the couch wearing a blue silk dress. A pair of high heels sit next to the couch. When he enters, she stands to greet him as she was programmed. He waived her away as he went to get cleaned up in the bathroom. Looking at himself in the mirror, he thinks silent thoughts as he decided that the woman would not do for his current taste.

He leaves the bathroom, opens the door and asks the woman to leave. Once she is out the door, he closes it and calls the front desk.

I am not satisfied with my order and have sent her back. I require the manager to see me immediately please.

Before the front desk clerk could even say anything, the young man terminated the call. It took about 10 minutes, but there was a knock on the door. He opened the door to a middle aged human of japanese decent, also wearing a suit.

Yes, come in Himura” he said to the manager. “I require something more than your current offering has.

The manager bows and nods. “What is it you would like?

Her” he said as he hold up the image of a young girl in her late teens. “I desire her.

A puzzled look comes across the managers face. “Sir … we have options available for that … age.

No Himura, I require HER!” and he thrusts the image closer to him.

A shocked look now shows as he recognizes the young girl. She was the daughter of a local mafia don. “ummm, she is ..

I know how the hell she is, dammit!” the young man interrupts. “How much?

Himura was a member of the Yakuza, whom run this particular bunraku parlor, and there has been a tentative peace between the Yakuza and the families since the occupation. However, he knew that this young man was possibly more dangerous than even the family. A moment passes by and the manager simply states “120,000 nuyen.

Done.” the young man states and sends the creds to the manager.

Yes sir, but please be patient as it will be a few days at least.

Very well” the young man said as he gestured towards the door for the manager to leave. “Please cancel my order with the Boulevard restaurant as well. I no longer have my appetite.

Certainly” the manager states as he left the room.

A few days pass with no word from the manager. On the third day, the young man gets a message that his order has been completed and is enroute. She will be wiped and chipped within 12 hours and ready for delivery tomorrow evening. A thin smile of satisfaction grew across his face.

The following evening, he refreshed himself and headed to the lobby to mingle with the other patrons and await his delivery. He was in the middle of a discussion with a couple of other individuals when the door was suddenly kicked in. Before anyone knew it, the guards at the door and two others by the bar were being assaulted. When an ork drilled one of the guards with a sledgehammer, they thought it best to flee upstairs and lock themselves in their rooms until law enforcement arrives. Together, as a herd of prey fleeing a predator, they moved as a group up the stairs to their rooms. However, the young man pauses on the stairs. He started to record the scene with his contacts. He had a feeling he knew why these people were here and wanted to know who they were. He caught the video of the shadowrunning team making quick work of the Yakuza guards. Without skipping a beat, they moved to the basement and within moments, young women were escorted out of the building. He slammed a fist down as he spotted his prize leave with these people. Moments later, law enforcement shows up and begins to start taking peoples statements. Then the explosion happened from the basement and it shook the building. Again, the patrons froze in panic, but were reassured by the SFPD that they have things under control.

The young man went back to his room and called the manager again. This time it took an hour or so for him to arrive due to the police activity.

I’m sorry, but there seems to have been some … complications ..” he says to the young man.

Understood … these things happen …” He looks directly into the eyes of the manager, who is strangely drawn in … almost hypnotically. “You understand my displeasure, correct?

Yes …” he says and nodding his agreement. The manager brought up his commlink and transferred a sum of 150,000 nuyen to the young man. “For the misunderstanding …

Thank you” the young man says and dismisses the manager.

Seething, the young man reviews the video of the raid over and over. “Yes …” he says to himself. These pawns were who he thought they were. They were the ones that were hired to eliminate Xiu Yang. “Curious” he thought to himself.” These also look like the ones that were hired to do those as well … excellent then, they will be perfect pawns in this game …” He smiles as he looks at the man wearing a ballistic mask. “Excellent …

Session 16 — Welcome to my Parlor …

Cast of Characters

  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • Sledge
  • Tatters
  • Acorn
  • Ace

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.

The team spent a few days planning for how to deal with the baseball player job and they have developed a pretty good plan so far. But as I said, I had another job for them. An enforcer for a local mafia family needed some help and immediately. He requested Havoc Squad specifically. The meet was for later that night at Morenos, an italian restaurant in South Bay.

The team went to the meet with a fully developed plan for the meeting with the baseball player the following day, so they were possibly open for another job. When they got there, Tatters noticed that the restaurant was a virtual fortress and that they were not alone. Both he and Eternal were waiting in the bulldog in case something went wrong. Eternal grabbed an image of the Johnson and sent it to one of his contacts. Apparently, what he got back caused him to tell the team to be on their best behavior and for him and Tatters to go into the restaurant.

With the full party there, which he knew of the others in the vehicle outside, he offered them a plate of food and to their surprise, the food was real and not soy-based like everything else in the 6th world. Walker grabbed a plate to go to bring back to Black Cat. With dinner out of the way, the Johnson made his pitch. The daughter of the mafia Don was kidnapped by the Yakuza and is currently in a Bunraku parlor awaiting to be mind wiped and chipped. The deal was made with no negotiation as Eternal immediately agreed to the terms. There was also a bonus deal for rescuing any other women there. Enforcer to enforcer, Eternal offered to bring acquire a “trophy” for him, which was accepted.

The team knew of the location of the parlor and what the target looked like. They decided to move on this immediately. The went made their way to the downtown parlor, which was a renovated hotel, and parked nearby. Walker and Tatters went Astral and VR, respectively, for some recon. Tatters located the building blueprints and the recent renovation plans. While in the host, he also found the security sensor suite on the front door and a file icon labeled “personalities.” There was also a magical ward discovered, however, Walker was able to force his way through successfully. The blueprints revealed that there was a new basement, so Walker went there first. He found the target and other kidnapped victims. He also witnessed, Astrally, one of them lose their essense as they got chipped. Tatters also came up with a clever idea to plant a data bomb on the personality file and the entrance sensor suite.

While the team started to go into planning, the developed a partial plan to get in the place and camp out at the bar, which was where the door to the basement was. However, Eternal had other ideas. He burst out of the parked bulldog, strutted up to the two guards out front and had his sword hilt deep in one of them before anyone could even act. Walker, used to his impatience, was able to get a spell of and was at his side. The others quickly made their way to the door, but Eternal already had both outside gaurds neutralized before even Walker got to him.

With the party now poised outside the door, Tatters feed the camera feeds to their HUD display. They now knew where each of the other four guards were. Tatters triggered the databomb to brick the sensor suite, which caused the guards to come on alert. However, he routed their commlink calls to his deck instead. Eternal burst through the front door, bypassed the two gaurds there, and pounced on one of the two guards by the bar. The rest of the team joined the raid. Ace took the full brunt of a submachine gun blast to the chest and went down. Once the four guards were relieved of their duties, Ace was patched up with a spell from Acorn, the team headed down to the basement. During the fighting, the parlor patrons fled upstairs.

There they found the kidnapped victims locked in a cage, a victim that was chipped is still in the chair and a yakuza doctor. Tatters popped the lock on the cage and Walker started freeing them, along with their target. Eternal beheaded the doc and took his ear as the enforcer’s trophy. With high threat response so quick to respond, the team fled the area, but not before Eternal placed some high ex grenades set on a timer in the basement. They were able to rescue seven other victims, along with their target Donatella, and dropped them off at Moreno’s as instructed. The team received a big payout and Eternal gained a valuable contact. Now they have the two remaining jobs to complete.


Establishing a Foothold — Side Run

Silver Tusk is by no means a large ork, but he still commands a sizable cell for the Bloody Tusks. He looks around his office, which is the actual office of the abandoned Paramount Theater, that he has been running his operation out off. Clicking through the tablet and reviewing the months take on the protection racket. “Hmmm, WaveRunner is still refusing to pay,” he said to himself about the harbormaster of the Oakland seaport. “I am going to have to have another chat with the ol’ chap.

Then from outside the theatre, a burst of gunfire erupts. Quickly, he ran from the office and down to the entrance. Standing over the body of a person, the two initiates that were on guard duty for the front door. One of them, designated as Worm, was standing over the intruder with his AK-97. The other, designated as Maggot, was just a bit twitchy and the stench of piss emanates from the fresh stain on his pants, was pulling himself up on the wall.

With, possibly a little too much enthusiasm, Worm looks at Silver Tusks and starts jammering on. “Quiet!” he shouted to him. “What happened here?

No idea Silver, this fragger just came up and said something, but then shot Maggot. I got a couple rounds off in him but he got me pretty good with that sword.” He looks down at the wound in his side.

He looks over to another ork nearby and whistles. “Tend to that” and points to the wound. The rest of you, get him inside.” He slaps a trauma patch on the intruder and takes a look around. He wasn’t worried about law enforcement or corporate security at all, but you never know if another gang is trying to infringe on their territory.

What the hell is wrong with you?” he asks Maggot as he finally gets up from the ground.

Hhheeeee, caauught mmmeee” he starts to say but his words are interrupted by his body still twitching from the stick and shock that he was shot with.

For frag’s sake …” Silver Tusk says while looking at him. “Thats it, your are now known as Twitch. Now get inside and get yourself cleaned up.

The other ork gangers around them start laughing and calling him “Twitch.

Silver Tusk stops by Worm and the medic as the others take the intruder to a nearby room. “How is he doc?

He looks up at him and says “He’ll live. Its looks like he took the monoblade all the way to the hilt and is still standing. It seems that the slice missed all the vital organs and was a clean cut. Just needs some rest and the bandages will stop anything from falling out and he should be just fine.

Good,” Silver Tusk says and looks at Worm. “Your new name is now Hilt. Welcome to the Bloody Tusks, kid.” and leaves as a smile grew on Hilt’s face.

As he walks up to the room, another ork is standing there looking at the intruder. He has him bound up in the chair. “I know this fragger, Silver,” he says in a flat tone. “That ballistic mask, that sword, this is the fragger that my cousin was talking about up in the Tir. He says that him and his team took down a building and drug lab for the Spanners there.

What the hell are you talking about Hoodie?” he asks.

This is him, this has got to be him, but what in sam hell is he doing down here.

Silver Tusk walks into the dark room and throws a bucket of cold water on the intruder. They have a discussion and start going back and forth about what he is doing here. The intruder, who said his name was Eternal, is working with WaveRunner and wishes to have him get out of the racket.

“Interesting…” He thought to himself. “Lets see just how connected this new player is.”

Ok, Eternal, lets make a deal then. To prove that your family is connected, then you will need to get me some hardware that we need. You see, there is also a new player that is moving against us. I know you aint with them, I can smell it. Being a family man, I know you would understand this. You see, the families and the Bloody Tusks had an alliance during the Occupation and did good together. This new player is a gang coming out of Los Angeles known as the Stiches. We need some hardware to hold them off, so if you can get me this, then we can come to an arrangement.

Eternal nods in agreement.

So what I would like is an Ares Thunderstruck and I need it within 2 weeks. Until then, I will lay off of WaveRunner and his dues. If you can get me this in time, then his past dues will be waived and he will no longer be required to pay his dues.” He looks at the bound intruder. “Untie him and get him his gear” he says to Hoodie. The ork goes and unties him and gets a duffle bag for him.

Eternal looks at him and agrees to the terms.

Great, but I only tell you once. Don’t fuck me, Eternal. Don’t you ever try to fuck me.” The pair nod in agreement and Eternal leaves.

Theres no way he can get one of those in such a short time” Hoodie says to Silver Tusk who responds with a sly smile “I know …

Mr. Saturday Night — Side Run

So I get a call from a suit that I know that wants to set up a meeting with Havoc Squad’s decker, Tatters, and only him. I thought it was strange that she wanted just him, but she hasn’t screwed me in the past, so I set it up. Duchess was working with the Havoc Squad on her job, so they should be fine without him. If she needs some Matrix support, she would let me know. She set the meet up for the 18th at 6:30 at a bar in Fremont.

The job seemed pretty simple, I guess. Tatters was needed to infiltrate an MCT research facility in Palo Alto. They are working on a classified project that was rumored to be a response to Knight Errants ACE units. He would be supported by a security strike team. All the intelligence has been gathered already and a plan developed. All they needed Tatters for was to access the host and acquire the research files. A little weary of this, Tatters discussed why they couldn’t use their own deckers. She simply said that he has a knack for this sort of thing and wants to test him out. Additional details were discussed and an agreement was made. A car would be picking up Tatters at the agreed upon time.

When the strike force picked up Tatters, they discussed the plan that was developed and what his role would be. There were four on this strike team all introducing themselves as Romeo, Mercutio, Tybalt and Benvolio. They also provided him a set of black full body after looking at what he was currently armored with. The plan was to have an aerial insertion from a VTOL onto the roof of the building. Tatters would hack the host and provide the access needed to their RFIDs. Once in there, Tatters would again hack the host through a direct connect and gather the data needed. Afterwords, the floor would be searched for any possible prototypes and assess their status. Evac would then be done by rooftop with the VTOL.

After a little tumble on the repelling, the squad gathered around Tatters to provide cover while he went VR. Mercutio, the mage, covered them with an invisibility spell and a mana barrier to protect his vulnerable body. With very little effort really, Tatters easily got into the host and set the RFID tags to have the correct clearance for the 54th floor. Mercutio then covered the team with a spell to mask any sounds. Once the picked the lock and headed down the stairs. Using a leap frog style tactic, the small team quickly made their way down to the 54th floor and into the research center.

Tatters hooked into the host directly, while the squad provided cover and security. This time, things were a bit more difficult in the host. While he did happen to get the correct files for the research project, it took time to defuse the databomb, decrypt and copy the file. However, he was able to without drawing the attention of the host or its deadly intrusion countermeasures.

The team then formed up in a diamond formation to survey the floor for any prototypes. They came upon a chamber with 4 stasis pods. One was empty, but the other three had a very large ogre and two extremely large giants in them. Only moments into surveying them, the red lights above them turned green and the pods opened. The ogre and giants came bounding out with an almost supernatural quickness.

Using suppressive fire and movement tactics, the team was able to secure their retreat in the stairwell. However, it did not go unnoticed that the firepower they had was insufficient and barely slowed down the trio. They took the bullets with a smile and kept on coming. Only when they had the advantage that the stairwell provided, did the assault stop. With a quickness the elite strike force and Tatters fled to the rooftop and to the waiting VTOL. As they were leaving, they spotted an corpsec HTR team aboard VTOLs as well descending on the building. They had left just in the nick of time.

Now with the threat of his life not hanging in the balance, Tatters made a copy of the files and reviewed them real quick. It seemed mostly project management stuff, project specifications, budget spending, nothing real .. wait. His train of though stopping on a dime as he noticed on some of the paperwork and photos a tattoo of some sort. He has seen this before … on Eternal …


Session 15 — Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Cast of Characters

  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • Sledge
  • Tatters
  • Viking
  • Introducing, Acorn
  • Introducing, Ace

So I am going to have to have a little talk with dear Aspen … The last run involving the bug shaman seemed to go pretty flawlessly, but afterwards, the team sort of imploded. After Bowjack decided to take on the SFPD all by himself, and failed, I had to get a replacement together pretty quickly. I got word a few weeks ago that Salt had a prospect that might turn out good. She was really green and, not to mention, a teenage girl. Since the team did so well with Duchess, maybe a more permanent solution might be to have her join. So I had Salt line it up and when this job came up, I decided to have her in with the rest of Havok Squad.

The job was set up at the downtown Hilton and the Johnson provided a Matrix code for the team to provide the valet attendant. Once the code was transmitted, the Johnson arrived in a stretch Americar, complete with minibar, and the team piled in. The Johnson, a middle-aged human male with a leisure suit and SF Giants baseball cap, proposed the job and pay to the team. The job was simple enough, to rough up an up and coming player and end his career. The Johnson made is specific that he does not want him killed, just wants to end his career. After the deal was made and the team agreed the details were shared. In a surprise rookie move, Walker asked the Johnson why he wanted this to happen. A quick retort from the Johnson about it being his business reminded Walker that his line of work was generally paid work with no questions asked.

Now anyone following the local sports news knows that the Giants have a player that may end up breaking the home run record for a single game. Yes, the target is none other than Jackson Pruitt. Another detail that was revealed is that the Johnson wants to have this done before Pruitt breaks the record. Since baseball season has already started, this could prove to be a little difficult. During all this, Tatters is already scouring the Matrix for info on their target .. and their Johnson.

After that meeting, the team is dropped off back at the Hilton, and they started discussing the plan. Only moments after, Sledge gets a call from Horatio, his fixer, asking what he got him into and the line goes dark after a hail of gunfire is heard. He slammed the commlink down on the ground and smashes it to pieces. Acorn, pointing out the obvious, suggested that they discuss this somewhere a little more private. Tatters suggested a nearby dive bar that had drek service and matching drinks, but would work for discussing any plans. When they agreed to meet there, Acorn started ahead of the team on her rollerblades. Caught by surprise, the rest of the team watched as she skated away and then made their way there. Sledge decided to go back to his car and drive there.

On the way there, it seems that Tatters offended Eternal in some way. The rest of the team paused as Eternal draws his Ares Predator on the decker. There was a sigh of relief when the two discussed something quietly and the firearm goes back in its holster. Downtown San Francisco really doesn’t need another HTR incident. When they arrived at the dive bar, they pack into a booth at in the rear corner of the bar. This bar, as Tatters mentioned, served only two things, beer and beer and the Ork behind the bar really didn’t care about anything else. Eternal took his ballistic mask, possibly for the first time in a very long time, and revealed the scarred flesh of his face. They started discussing various parts of the plan and when the timing would be. Based on the Giants game schedule, their target would not be back in the area until midweek next week. However, it appears that his agent does have an office in town. They decided to pay a visit to the sports promoter that happen to run a boxing gym nearby. Before they left, Tatters revealed his new tow, a PI-TAC, and explained how it works.

So on to the boxing promoter’s gym, who’s name was Kanner Leewee. Walker, Viking and Sledge walk into the gym while Eternal and Tatters wait in the car for Matrix overwatch. Acorn positioned herself nearby in case she was needed. They were directed to the office in the basement and proceeded down the stairs. Along the way, they noticed movement and sound coming from a meat freezer that is stuffed with hanging racks of meat. They opened the door and found a naked elf, bound at the feet, hands and wearing a burlap sack over his head, hanging from one of the racks. Due to the PI-TAC, everyone can see the video feed. Quickly, Tatters blotted out the more sensative parts for Acorn. Walker removed the bulap sack as Sledge attempted to lift him up off the meat hook. However, the elf’s body was slick with icy sweat and the ork gets a face full of elven private parts. A quick scan around, the team finds a bag of gear nearby that had the elf’s clothes are gear. Walker used a levitate spell to get him off the hook and they wait while he gets dressed. Apparently the elf, who introduced himself as “Ace”, knew Leewee and where to find him.

Ace escorted the team further down the hallway to the office, which caused Leewee to call out to the bum for getting loose. Ace decided to quickly leave the office and headed out of the building. The Leewee turned to the other 3 that here in his office. “What da ya bums want?” he asked out. Quick on his feet, Walker concocts a story that they have a business and wanted to book Pruitt for a Meet and Greet. On this queue, Tatters quickly jumps into the Matrix and throws together a website for their newly created business, along with credentials for Walker to use if needed. Just as this is going up, Leewee is confirming the story and looks at Walker “So when do you want to schedule this?” Their plan worked. After some back and forth, they got it scheduled for the end of the week on Saturday. Pruitt was already going to be in town for another event and will be flying out that night for a game in NYC the following day. With this part of the run scheduled, they team moves on to further planning on what they are going to do. However, it seemed only Acorn notice that Eternal went dark while Tatters was in VR. When he came through, there were some words exchanged and then Tatters went dark on the PI-TAC. After a few moments though, they both come back online, apparently after discussing something in private.

With nothing else to do currently, the team went their separate ways. A few days later, I got another job that specifically requested the Havoc Squad. Not by name of course, but by reputation. It seems that the team has gotten into some high demand as of late. So I messaged them all with the details. They all agreed to the meet and went to the motel where it was scheduled. Acorn just walked up and into the door, surprising the Johnson. They discussed what he needed and even though he was pretty vague in most details, they agreed to the job and the pay. It was then that more details were released. There was a trial coming up and he wanted the evidence in that trial destroyed so that the trial does not happen. A Simsense star, Janice Polk, had a stalker that tried to kill her. The trial is scheduled on June 4th, so the team had a few weeks to complete the job. So now the team has two jobs going currently and a few days to start planning on how to end the career of the sports athlete.


Session 14 — Bugs … Does It Have To Be Bugs?

Cast of Characters

  • Bowjack
  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • Sledge
  • Viking
  • With Special Guest, Duchess

The team had wrapped up the prior night by stashing the other runner team’s loot in their bulldog and leave it a few blocks away to return to later. After I provided Duchess with Tatter’s commcode (she could have just used the team to reach him but why not get the full runner experience by reaching out to contacts to get other tasks done), she arranged an immediate meet with him to hack through the commlinks for any useful intel.

Tatters sat listening with a great deal of incredulity that first, a fifteen year old was on the mission and also the johnson, and secondly that the team managed to take down opposition without any fatalities. Somewhat dazed from what I hear, he left promising to get back with any intel he finds by the morning.

Before the team reconvenes in the morning, Tatters sends some relevant comm conversations between the other runners, along with a record of messages left for what looks to be the Johnson when they have a captive to deliver. After spending looking over the messages the team meets up at the club and decide to walk the eight blocks over to the supposed warehouse location.

Eternal breaks off from the group and effectively vanishes into an alley, watching the ruined warehouse from the ground level. The rest of the team finds a rooftop to watch from while Walker goes to astrally reconnoiter and Bowjack sends his flyspy.

Walker scours the warehouse astrally spotting what looks like a tunnel with rubble built up around the entrance protected by a mana barrier across the entrance. When the Flyspy catches up, Bowjack sends it as far as he can before his connection starts to become spotty and leaves the Flyspy watching the tunnel.

The team decides their surprising discretion in terms of weaponry may not be warranted this time, and Eternal leaves to get some heavier hardware while the rest of the team keeps up overwatch. During this time, the Flyspy catches what was certainly the Johnson. The dwarf makes an awkward climb up the tunnel past the Flyspy, but stops before leaving the tunnel itself and seems to check his commlink before returning down below. Without everyone there, the team decides to hold and stick to the plan of heading down in force.

I wouldn’t normally say Runners need to watch more trids, but I think if the team had seen a few Ares Firewatch propaganda trids, they would have just bailed and called in a tip. Instead, they head down the tunnel, which I certainly wish I could have seen. If Duchess wants to run the shadows, she better get used to the dirt. Most of the team ends up slipping on the loose dirt of the steep entrance.

While the rest of the team struggles to get their footing, Eternal continues on ahead, undeterred by his team falling behind. He kept his uncanny ability to remain utterly stealthy, while most of the rest of the team is falling, cursing, and throwing an occasional tantrum over a dress (Duchess is really going to have to learn about run appropriate attire).

As it is, Eternal reaches a chamber up ahead, and notices under at least one of the piles of rubble and dirt in the room is just the slightest movement. As he moves sword ready towards it, two man-sized ants rise out of the rubble and converge on him. Aside from a screaming Duchess, the team keeps its cool and springs into action despite most of them being in the tunnel still (in defense of Duchess: Insect Spirits on her first run, poor girl). Eternal is undeterred by the two converging on him and he and the team make short work of the ants.

While the team tries to take a moment to process what’s going on and how to move forward, they begin to hear the clamberings of a mass of creatures coming from two of the three tunnels leading on. Bringing the bigger hardware proves worthwhile as two grenades (and some tinnitus) later, only one tunnel remains leading into the chamber (and further down into the hive). They leave the third tunnel and set up an ambush as they hear a different kind of shuffling coming closer.

Rounding the corner into view are two horrible mixes of man and ant, hybrid spirits, which the team opens up on. When it’s done: four hybrids are dead, Sledge’s armor has taken some acidic damage, and Viking’s fist is covered in ichor from smashing through one’s head. Hearing silence now, the team heads down further into a bit of a maze of tunnels while Bowjack says he’ll watch their backs from the room with his drones that have curiously not fired a shot yet.

As the team makes their way down, eventually come across the Shaman’s lodge, finding two of the victims in the process of being inhabited. They seem to be writhing in agony in their cocoons against the wall. Walker intuits that they need to disrupt the hive and recognizes that placements of high sugar foods & syrup seems to be marking the boundaries of the lodge. Everyone sets about disrupting the lodge.

The best part of this was Duchess was exploding with excitement to tell me that she summoned a spirit so strong that the whole ground shook throughout the hive. I didn’t really have the heart to tell her that a minor earthquake happened to hit the bay area while they were down there…

Anyway, after freeing two captives, the team starts to make their retreat and head back up. And they ultimately make their escape, although they never tracked down the Shaman responsible for this. Conveniently enough, I know someone in a good position to capitalize on this info.

After that, Duchess paid the team and treated them to a nice dinner. I helped her out with some gifts she wanted to present the team. She gave Walker a wolf pup in thanks for rushing to protect her from the drone the night prior. And for Eternal, a cache of high ex grenades, to replace the ones he left behind in the Shaman’s lodge and through the hive to collapse the tunnels.

At this point, I would be thinking that Aspen is either getting out of touch or was exaggerating his claims that this team was chaotic. Some outliers but otherwise it’s been a professional and competent team. And then I heard what happened next. It seems as though this team is pretty good while they’re on the job, but once they get to their own devices, well, things get a little more extreme.


Blaze of Glory — Behind the Curtain

As the team finished up their dinner at the diner in southern San Francisco. Walker and Duchess were leaving the diner and talking by his car.

Hey. Thank you for this. It was generous. Look… you have my comm code, and you’re always welcome to contact me. I do hope you got what you wanted from this whole… endeavour.” Walker says to the young mage while petting his new wolf pup.
Your welc ….” The words barely left Duchess’s mouth as Bowjack barrels out of the diner with people shouting from it. He jumped into his roadmaster, slams the door and peels out of the parking lot in a haste. The sounds of shouting and screaming came from the inside of the diner. As Walker and Duchess look in with a sideways glance to see a troll bouncer sitting … yes sitting … on Sledge. They were yelling at him to calm down and that the SFPD were on their way. From down the street, the sudden squeal of tires caught their attention and the roadmaster comes to a screeching halt.

Looking down the street, a pair of SFPD cars had arrived and blocked the speeding roadmaster in. Not knowing what was going on or why this vehicle was driving at such a high rate of reckless speed, they decided to block it in. Minutes seemed like hours as they stood there in a stalemate. The elf slams the roadmaster in reverse and whips the car around and bails the other way, just to come to a halting stop as another pair of SFPD cars block him in. Quickly flipping the car around again, he tries to make it down a side street, but that too was blocked by more law enforcement vehicles. Again, they all sit there in another stalemate. The whine of a an SFPD VTOL is heard and the two magicians look to the sky.

Drawn out by the commotion, the bouncers let Sledge off with a warning and step out to see whats going on. Viking finally got his food to go and heads out of the diner, nodding to Walker and Duchess as he passes, and down the street to his Harley. The troll does not want to have any part of what is going on. Walker instinctively grabs a hold of Duchess’s arm and pulls her next to his car. The wolf shaman sensing that this situation was about to get out of control. Just as he gets her to relative safety, the roadmaster starts revving his engine.

Inside the roadmaster, Bowjack looks at the surrounding police cars that are blocking the escape routes. He was trapped in. Looking up and seeing the VTOL hovering above, he closes his eyes and a calm serene feeling came over him. He thought about his drones, his novacoke and his assault rifle that is next to him. The young elf’s thought train goes to the young elven woman that he captured his heart. “What would Felicia think about this …” he said to himself quietly. “Ahh Frag it!!!!” he screamed! He grabbed the bag of novacoke in the console next to him, puts his face in the bag and inhales deeply. The burn of the novacoke hits his system and he looks out at Walker and Duchess standing there. “FRAGGIN WIZZARDS!!” he screams out at Walker as he slams on the gas. The roadmaster hurls in reverse and slams against a pair of cars, but doesnt break through. The stunned officers pull their weapons and the elf slams the gas and it barrels forward towards the other roadblock. This time, the officers were ready for him. The open fire on it.

Once the gunfire starts, Walker moves in to cover Duchess and pins her between the car and his body. Bullets riddled the roadmaster as it slammed into the other pair of vehicles. It hit so hard that the roadmaster recoiled and rolled back, stopping in front of the diner. Walker takes a peak over his car, just in time to see Bowjack do some more novacoke and grab his assault rifle. “drek …” he thought to himself as he moves back to cover Duchess. Bowjack steps out of the roadmaster with his assault rifle and opens fire on the nearby officers. They in turn return fire. From above, the whine of the VTOLs minigun winding up and firing on the roadmaster and the elf. Bullets riddle both Bowjack and the roadmaster.

Then there was silence. The stunned onlookers from the diner coming out from their cover to view the horrifying scene. Duchess and Walker slowly peer up from behind his car. “O..h… God …” Duchess says as she sees the bloody scene. Walker brings the young girl in close and shields her from the view. Viking, hearing the gunfire, moved to Walker’s side and surveys what they witnessed. There, in the middle of the street, destroyed roadmaster and the bullet riddled elven body of Bowjack. The assault rifle he carried falling on the ground next to him. Viking and Walker escort Duchess out of the area as law enforcement approaches and secures the horrific scene.

Session 13 — A Night at the Cerebus …

Cast of Characters:

  • Bowjack
  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • And introducing, Sledge
  • With Special Guest, Duchess

Eddie Glenn, the owner of a club I like to hit up now and then, reached out to me saying that the club and neighborhood have been having some issues lately. As we got to talking about how I could help him, we got to talking about my girl Duchess. She’s young yes, but has a lot of potential on the magic front to take a few steps into the shadows. We both agreed it might be good to have someone with a personal interest and familiarity on the job, so this seemed like a good setup to get her back out to San Francisco.

Luckily she was free to take a short notice trip out from Baltimore and come visit. Eddie and I worked out a plan where Duchess would serve as the Johnson, but require that she is brought along on the job. Runners, particularly this new team, might not take to a 15 year old girl running the show, but they’ll certainly listen if there’s a paycheck involved. We set her up with a total budget, and gave her the responsibility to decide how much to offer. Whatever is left over is hers to keep.

On that front, Duchess didn’t disappoint. The team settled on 8,000 nuyen each with her, leaving Duchess with a nice chunk for herself. She’s got good instincts for this business. After that, Duchess briefed the team that the job is mainly to provide surveillance and security for the club during a show with what I’m told was a pretty novahot DJ. Would have liked to go myself, but wouldn’t be good to hang around influencing a job.

From what Aspen told me, it was almost like this was a totally different team tonight. The team set up a pretty effective surveillance net and stayed, well, more professional than I’ve been lead to expect with the Havoc squad. I’m told by the owner that one, could only be Bowjack, hassled a customer over some novacoke. The new member of the team, Sledge, got in on this until management informed Duchess. I wish I could have seen the sight of her dragging Bowjack by his elbow, and Sledge, an ork, by his ear. In fact, maybe Eddie has some security footage still.

She got the team refocused just in time for them to start noticing some unusual activity. Eternal was set up outside (for the best, I don’t think he’d do well in the club scene) and noticed a drone doing orbits around the club. It was trying to stay low and stealthy but he managed to catch a bit of its silhouette before losing it again. However, that was enough to get him focused on the right thing and he managed to pick up the drone again. With a quick warning to the team, he opened fire, initially missing the drone which then turned to get in range to return fire – a big mistake – as Eternal’s second shot landed solid.

Meanwhile, the team inside had started to focus in on some folks who didn’t seem as into the club scene itself. The team focused the most on an Ork (apparently even the Ork is racist against Orks!) but still managed to notice that the moment the drone went down, one of the men seemed to receive a message, have a quick conversation, and make his way out of the club. Sledge revealed himself trying to follow him (speaking of people who didn’t fit into the club scene) but with only one exit, it was easy for the team to pick the guy up again as he left.

Walker tried to get him into conversation but the man stayed focus on trying to get off the scene and continued to leave until Walker astrally slapped him down, and instantly unconscious. From what I heard he was almost outright killed. As Duchess comes out to see what’s going on, Eternal and Walker realize another drone is beelining in for Walker and the downed guy. Duchess may need to work on some of her instincts as she was focused on the unconscious man instead of potential threats. Walker seems to have a good heart though tried to get her out of the way, and stubborn as she was, he risked taking the incoming bullets himself. After a failed shot at Walker and Duchess, Eternal gets his second drone kill of the night.

The team starts to work on getting the guy into taco tank when Eternal spots a bulldog rounding the corner, and then backing out and leaving. A last second shot and he takes a rear wheel out and, I wish I was kidding, decided to chase the vehicle down on foot. Thanks to an assist from Duchess, he makes a … spirited… go at it, and catches up to the van, making it clear that they get one warning before a grenade comes out.

Amazingly, the team manages to subdue this, frankly insultingly b-rate runner team without any further casualties. Duchess with some support from Walker and some intimidation from Sledge and Eternal manage to learn that the team was hired to abduct people in the area and deliver them to a warehouse nearby. The other runner team of course couldn’t be bothered to do any real investigation on their Johnson so didn’t have much more information.

Although Tatters is prepping for the other job he was requested for, the team should be able to drop off the runner’s commlinks for him to search for any additional intel before they go back tomorrow to check out the warehouse in question. This first part proved to be an easy introduction for Duchess, but I hope what they find is just as much of a milkrun.


Session 12 – A Glutton for Punishment

Cast of Characters:

  • Bowjack
  • Walker
  • Tatters
  • Ajax
  • Eternal

Gluttony “.. the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

After the initial recon was done during lunch at the Dragon Panda, Tatters does some recon on his own through the Matrix. He is able to find the arrest record for Ajax and alter it enough that it shows he was arrested for unlicensed cyberwear. Bowjack also met with the attorney, Lo Wang, shortly after that. They worked out a deal where Lo Wang would expedite Ajax’s release. They agreed on a price and the lawyer was able to get Ajax released the next morning after paying a fine of 5,000 nuyen. After some discussion amongst the team, Eternal fronted the 5k for the fine. More on that later though.

After the meeting with the lawyer, the team gathers together to continue working the job at hand. Bowjack sent in a flyspy drone while Tatters went on Matrix overwatch. Eternal scouted out the loading dock area and Walker kept watch over the vulnerable bodies of Tatters and Bowjack. The tiny drone worked its way into the basement level where most of the kitchen prep and work is done. Tatters was able to hack his way into the restaurant’s host and get information on the blueprints and various other files. As they discussed option on how they would proceed with completing the mission, Bowjack was able to catch a moment that could be an opening. They noticed their mark make his way up to the vats where he would personally test the soup for flavor. They have decided that this was their opportunity.

So lets go back to the release of Ajax. Eternal gave the credstick with the fine on it to Bowjack. Bowjack was the only one that went to pick him up from the precinct. Once there, he pays the fine and Ajax is released with the gear that he had on him. His Jeep, however as with all such cases, was surrendered to the SFPD. When Bowjack and Ajax exited the precinct, there was a surprise waiting for them. An Ares HTR team in two Banshee T-Birds descended on the pair. In a moments thought, a tactical squad was on them with weapons drawn. One T-Bird was hovering with its mounted weapons trained on the pair and the second T-Bird was circling above. Among the Ares officers, a UCAS military official waded through them. In his hand was a scanner. He requested Bowjack to place his hand on the scanner. Reluctantly he did so. The scanner’s trid display showed a “no match” and he moved over to Ajax. When he placed his hand on the scanner, it came back as a match.

Before he could even complete his sentence to “bag and tag him“, Ajax quickly leapt into action and slammed his hatchet in the head of the military official. Luckily, the helmet on his full body armor took the brunt of the blow. Ajax, however, did not fair so well. The HTR response was swift and efficient. All of their weapons unloaded into Ajax, tearing him to shreds. Bowjack narrowly rolled out of harms way, but other innocent bystanders were also killed in the strike. After the bloodshed, Bowjack was free to leave since he did not take part in the attack and they were not looking for him. Still covered in blood and gore, he ate his McHues order and went home to get cleaned up.

Later that day, the team prepares themselves for the their strike. They need only to seize the opportunity, should it arise. Walker was to place an invisibility spell on Eternal while Bowjack watches the basement through the flyspy. Tatters would be on Matrix overwatch and would be ready to spring his trap. When their mark would go up to the vats to taste test, Tatters would cause his cyberwear to cease functioning. This would be the moment that Eternal would knock him into the vat. Well that was the plan anyways.

For the most part, the plan went flawlessly. However, at the moment when Eternal went to knock him into the vat, he found that he was a bit more sturdy than he thought. He slammed into the massive wall of flesh with a disheartening THUD! Quick on his feet, Eternal hits him again with a solid hit that was enough to knock him unconscious and into the vat of soup. As he fell into the boiling hot soup, his body got stuck in the vat opening. His upper half was drowning in the soup while his bottom half was left flailing. After a few moments, the flailing stopped and the deed was done. Just as Eternal starts to make his way off the catwalk and out, one of the cooks notice his body and screams. When EMS and LoneStar security shows up, the team was already on their way out.

The job was completed to the Johnson’s satisfaction and the team was paid after the coroner’s report was released. His death was ruled an accident. The report went on to state that there was a malfunction in his cyberwear that caused him to fall into the vat and subsequently drowning.


Session 11 – Arrested Development

Cast of Characters:

  • Bowjack
  • Walker
  • Tatters
  • Viking
  • Ajax
  • Eternal

After Aspen told me about his “Havoc Squad,” I did a little digging on them and they could be just what the bay area needs. After they get settled in, I set them up with a job. The meet was set for 3:30am at Cheng’s Restaurant in Oakland. The owner there is having some issues with another restauranteur. She says that he has been intimidating her because she refuses to sell to him. The word on the street is that he was going to take drastic action. She reached out to me for some help. I figured this would be a great way for the new team to get their feet wet.

They team meets up at the restaurant and go to the meeting. The Johnson was alone and eating her noodles when they arrived. After discussing the job, the team learned that she is requesting that this person be killed, but in a particular way. They are to kill him in a vat of his own soup and it must look like an accident. After some negotiation, they are paid a partial amount up front and the rest will be paid after the coroner’s report is released. They come to an agreement and discuss the details.

Their mark is a Chinese man named Xiu Yang. He owns a chain of Chinese buffet-style restaurants in San Francisco. The team is provided a photograph of him. They also find that he does have ties to the Triad. Tatters does starts some matrix searches on him and finds that the is a heavy handed style boss that has his thumb on everything regarding his business. They leave the meet and head home. Tatters does find out that the original restaurant, Dragon Panda, is where he mainly is. but does make appearances at the other locations.

As the rest of the team is headed home, Ajax decides to head into downtown San Francisco and do a quick drive by on the restaurant. Once down there, SFPD picks up on a Jeep suspiciously driving around Chinatown at 4:00am. They proceed to pull the vehicle over and perform their normal checks. A SIN check reveals that the driver is broadcasting a fake SIN. While questioning Ajax, they pick up on his nervousness and detain him for further questioning. Another pair of officers check the Jeep while a portable scanner is used to reveal Ajax’s true identity. The scanner picks up on his cyberwear and a handprint scan returns some interesting information. When he was first pulled over, Ajax started broadcasting to the rest of the team through his image link on what was occurring. Tatters starts digging on the matrix for any information on the SFPD and the local precinct.

The whole team was watching as the handprint scanner displayed that he was wanted by UCAS military for desertion and AWOL. Ajax is immediately taken into custody and taken to jail. Before the police could link Ajax to the rest of the team, Tatters hacks and bricks his commlink.

Shocked at the early morning incident, the team decides to move forward with the job and will worry about Ajax later. Bowjack does decide to lookup an attorney that could help him and scheduled an appointment with Johnson and Lo Wang for later that day. The plan was for the team to meet up at the Dragon Panda and have lunch to check the place out. Eternal stays behind and does some legwork for his family responsibilities. When they get there, they go into the buffet in pairs and get some food. They do notice that some Triad members are present and there is pretty good security here. After some time, they hear the crash of broken dishes and screaming coming from the kitchen. A young woman comes running from the back, through the restaurant and out the door crying. A large morbidly obese Chinese male with heavy cyberwear comes out from the back and yells that she is fired! Looking back at the image they were provided, which appears severely dated, and find that this is their mark. Concern amongst the team spreads as they realize that this man must weigh close to 800lbs.

Seeing an opportunity, Walker and Bowjack rush out to follow the fired waitress. Bowjack trips and falls, but Walker is able to catch up to her and started a conversation to keep her from getting in a cab and leaving. Tatters gets a bead on her commlink and puts a mark on it for use later. Walker talks her into letting him pay for a cab and escort her home to allow her to vent as she needs. Tatters then does some searching on the Matrix for her and finds an image on her social media of her, their mark and their Johnson together at a family function. About that same time, Walker learns that the waitress, who is Janet Che, is the niece of Xiu Yang.

At this revelation, Tatters does some more digging and learns that the Johnson, Lien Cheng, and Xiu Yang had divorced 3 years ago. Furthermore, he located a life insurance policy that named her as the beneficiary. As a kicker, the life insurance policy has an accidental death clause that will pay out if he was to suffer an accidental death. It seems that the team has stumbled across quite the dilemma. One of their members has been arrested, their job is to eliminate the ex husband of their Johnson and to make it look like an accident AND they find that their Johnson will receive a life insurance policy payout upon the accidental death of her ex husband … yes, quite the pickle they find themselves in.