The Duchess gets an Intervention …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

I fraggin knew something was up once I walked through the door. It was in the middle of the day, the shop should have been open and busy. Star Flower never really closes during the day unless there was something wrong. Furthermore, she is just sitting there … waiting … for me? I subconsciously rub my wrist where the datajack was. I could feel her eyes burn as she glared at the implant. “Drek …” I said as she motioned for me to sit. I kept asking what the hell was going on, but she just kept sitting there insisting that I have a seat. I sat down and she proceeded to tell me how disappointed she was with me. How disappointed Raccoon is with me. “I will always support you, Jenessa, but you need to think about your life choices. I do this because I care about you.” She said as I sat down. She stood and lit some candles and incense. As the incense started to take hold of me, I could hear another voice. “Meet the Dweller

I was floating in nothingness. But then the giant face of Raccoon appeared. He wasn’t the same as I normally see the furry trash panda. His face was stern … unmoving … disappointed? He was saying that I needed to reconnect to my roots. “I don’t think it can be done … GIVE UP“. His words pounded in my head and still do. Was he abandoning me? “I don’t understand?” I kept saying.

The visage then turned to Wolf. “You choose to be in this life, but you want people like Walker, ‘Uncle E’, and everyone else around you to do the dirty work. You want all the glory and none of the dirt. You claim to want to learn the truth about your parents. Why they were killed. But you just want to take the easy road. Let that trust fund pay for everything. Let others kill for you. Anything so you don’t have to sacrifice. You shouldn’t be here.” “What??? I don’t understand? I have sacrificed plenty! I have killed people doing this!” I screamed.

After finishing that, the visage turned to the Yakuza person that I killed. I can never forget his face … ever. Only this time it was dead and withered. “You don’t even really want to be here. You’re only interested in the next way to destroy yourself.” He said, pointing to my wrist where the datajack was installed. “All because you had to bloody your hand … And to freak out over killing me. Foolish girl doesn’t belong in the shadows. If you knew how many people I’ve killed … tortured.” A smile starts to spread on his face. “My favorite job was that family in Mt Vernon. There’s an art to the order in which you kill a whole family…” He trails off before snapping, “You might have killed me, but I knew what I was and embraced it. I died doing my duty. You’re pretending to be something you’re not, and *it* will kill you. Go live the coward’s life you so desire.

Tears started to well up again. Raccoon and Wolf were … abandoning me and now the face of the dead Yakuza that I see every time I see a reflection is berating me for killing him. “I dont understand what you all are asking of me? What is it you want?” I screamed.

Then it switched to … mom? There she was, right in front of me. She looked sad … disappointed. The tears burst out “MOMMY???” I kept saying over and over again. “But now you’d rather play with chips. All because it got hard and you had to take some burden on yourself. Maybe you’re not strong enough … maybe you should turn back and give it all up … go back home to Rabbit, stick to going to the clubs, and let those with the will to run do it.” The disappointed, sad look on her face was too much. The tears just kept coming. “MOMMY!” I screamed as she started to fade away. “Don’t go … don’t abandon me too.” I screamed. Then she was gone. Star Flower, Raccoon, Wolf and … Mommy have all abandoned me. “Why did they leave me?” I softly asked myself, looking at the datajack.

Raccoon was there again. He asked me simply if I wanted to continue down this path. The tears stopped. The crying stopped. Matching the intensity in the look of Raccoon. “Yes” I stated.

Then help!” He said as I flew through Astral space. Everything was such a blur. There were seas of fire, a whirling vortex, crystalline structures, trees … wait, that is ONE tree … The sounds blended together. Buzzing, clacking, talking, screaming, whispers, squirming, all of them at once. It was almost sensory overload, then it all stopped. I woke up in a field beneath a tree. Overhead is a thick forest canopy that blocks out most of the sun. A cool breeze wafted over me as I see a furry creature running towards me. It took me a moment to realize it was Raccoon and he was frantic. Almost immediately, seeing him took me back to the stern look he gave me and how I should just give up. I shook the feeling loose as he runs up to me, holding a twisted bloated stick. I took a look at the stick and recognized the magic from my time with Havoc Squad. “A corruption has taken hold, help me to cleanse it.” I hear Raccoon tell me.

Without hesitation, I stood up and followed Raccoon deeper into the woods. “Damn your furry little ass can run.” I shouted out to him. We came upon a small clearing in the woods. Above was a horror that I have never imagined before. The creature seemed to be pulling an oil like substance from the ground, even though it was high in the sky. Then the stench hit me. The smell of decay and corruption permeated my senses. The area around the oil was blighted and corrupted.

There were corrupted water spirits that were being confronted by some beast spirits. They were battling while I protected and assisted Raccoon. I took a shot with my manabolt at one of the corrupted spirits, but figured my skills would be best used assisting Raccoon. I noticed the horror was also trying to turn the beast spirits. My mind thought of when the toxic spirit caused my raccoon beast spirit to turn on me. I couldn’t let that happen again. I attempted to disrupt these attempts when I could. However, I failed and it turned a fox spirit corrupt.

The other spirits were able to fend off the corrupted spirits, but the corrupted fox spirit sprang on me. I wasn’t expecting it since I was helping Raccoon with the clean up. Luckily it was enough for Raccoon to finally cleanse the area. The corrupted spirits dissipated. The horror took a lasting look at me and then disappeared back to where it came from. Raccoon was overexcited and ran around me in circles. I dropped to my knees and let the furball nuzzle me . I scratched behind his ear and under his chin. Our eyes met and he thanked me for helping him.

I found myself within the talismonger shop again. The incense and candles were still burning. As I found my bearings, Star Flower also came out of her meditative state. “Raccoon and I have a stronger bond than ever.” I stated. Star Flower simply smiled. I got up to leave and as I walked out, I realized how cold that sounded. Star Flower has also always been there and supported me. She even supported me with running the shadows even though nobody else really did. Frank would drek a brick if he knew the kinds of stuff I was doing. The trips to San Francisco, which I generally just played off as following a band or something. If he knew it was to run the shadows, he would be pissed!

The walk home, I felt a calmness that I have never felt before. The itching in my wrist where the datajack was installed was no longer there. However, one thing from the experience stuck with me. Raccoon telling me to give up. Wolf telling me to stop taking the easy road. To stop having one foot in the shadows and one foot out. The Yakuza telling me to embrace my job. My mom saying that I wasn’t strong enough. All of these kept flowing through my head. By the time I got home, I had just one thought on my mind. I needed to be stronger. I needed to embrace my path. I could no longer be Jenessa Greenley, the party going, trust fund brat. I looked in the mirror in the bathroom and seen my reflection. “I am Duchess …” I said. “I am DUCHESS …” I said louder. The faces of Raccoon, of Wolf, of my mom, of Walker, of Soren, of Kira, of Eternal, of Freecoil, of Betat, of Tatters, of the Yakuza man … of Acorn. A sharp pain hits me when I think of her. I couldn’t protect my love when she needed me. My eyes came to a sharp focus. Never again will I let that happen. “I AM DUCHESS!” I screamed. A smile came across my face. Gone was the girl … Here is the shadowrunner.

The Duchess Gets Back to Work …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

I got a message that Sabot had another job for us. I am not sure if I am ready to get back to work after the … well after the incident with the Yakuza, but I need to get back on the horse as the say. The job was to extract an Ares accountant. The negotiated pay was decent and we spent a few days researching the guy and casing his place. Him and his wife had an apartment near mine. We decided to first scout the apartment as a possible place of extraction, so we posed as perspective apartment hunters so that we could get a tour of the place. It was a pretty nice apartment overall. On the way out, security had some words with us since they picked up on some matrix security issues from BetaTest poking at the host. In the end though, they let us go without incident.

Security was pretty tight at the apartment so we tracked his routine. He was picked up by an Ares Arms shuttle outside the apartment and taken to work. This was repeated in the evening when he came home. There were multiple shuttle runs to the apartment building, but this guy took the same one each day. We decided we would grab him outside the apartment. The shuttle was an Ares Roadmaster, naturally, and it just so happens that Ironclad has a roadmaster. We made a deal with him to borrow the vehicle for the heist.

So the plan was starting to come together. We would snag the target outside the apartment using our roadmaster that would look like the shuttle. BetaTest is able to spoof the signal to make the target think that the shuttle arrived, which would draw him out of the apartment building and up to the vehicle. Once the door opened, however, he would notice that this was not the shuttle so we would need to grab him quickly.

The next part of the plan was to somehow delay the real shuttle long enough to grab the target, but not long enough to alert Ares and have another shuttle dispatched. I volunteered to use the Jeep for this. Sure we can just have BetaTest brick the shuttle to stop it, but that would raise red flags with Ares. I could also just cover the road with a sheet of ice an cause it to wreck, but again, that would raise suspicion. There was a one lane – one way stretch of road that the shuttle takes. This will be the spot that I use the Jeep to cause the delay.

Initially, I though about just throwing the Jeep in front of the shuttle. It would delay the shuttle for sure. Didnt really care if it hurt me at all, but decided on a safer route instead. I would pull the Jeep out of the parking spot and block the traffic a few cars in front of the shuttle. BetaTest would disable the ingition so that it cant start. Once the target was acquired, then he can re-enable the ignition and move the Jeep.

So now that we have a plan in place, I found a parking spot that would work perfectly. The dummy shuttle was parked nearby to assume the route with Soren and Freecoil. BetaTest was in his car providing overwatch.

It was still pretty early in the morning when we got to our places. As I sat there waiting for the shuttle, I pulled out one of the BTLs I had and twirled it around in my fingers. If memory serves right, this chip was supposed to be like a slow suffocation that makes you experience the brink of death. “We still have some time …” I said to myself. I was able to slot the the chip when BetaTest alerted us that the shuttle was within range. “Another time then” I said as I put the chip away. I broadcasted my true SIN instead of my fake one. The idea being that I didn’t want this incident to be tied to anything and only look like a stupid teenage driver that doesn’t know what the frag she was doing. If my fake SIN was checked and found out, it would alert them to something going on.

As the shuttle got into view, I made sure that it passed the last available turn off before jumping in front of traffic. A slight opening appeared and I took the sharp turn to pull out. It looked natural enough that onlookers may have thought that I was an inexperienced driver that took it too sharply and was now perpendicular to traffic. Man that lady in the blue comet is NOT acting very lady like. She kept swearing at me to frag off and flipping me the finger. I got out of the Jeep and popped the hood, which REALLY made her go off her rocker.

A few moments later, Ares security got off the shuttle and came over to see what the delay was. I told them it just died and wouldn’t start. “Somethings wrong with the flux capacitor or warp drive or something …” I said to them. The guy rolled his eyes at that. “Go ahead and try to start it, its not working for me” I offered. He muttered under his breath as the Jeep wouldn’t start. The roadmaster launched surveillance drones, but they kept a perimeter around the vehicle itself. It didn’t look like they were scouting out any farther. Just in case, I let the team know that the drones were loose.

We moved our roadmaster back along the route and headed towards the apartment building. BetaTest still had the guy’s commlink looped to make it look like our shuttle was the correct one. As it turns out, most people dont really pay all that much attention to small little subtle queues.

Back to the Jeep, the security guy called in to have a replacement shuttle get moving. We didn’t have much time now and our shuttle isn’t there yet. “We can try pushing it back in the spot over there?” I said, pointing to the empty parking spot I pulled out of. I made a gesture to push the Jeep. A couple of guys from the security team went to push the Jeep. I sent BetaTest a quick message to lock up the brakes. It was cute how these big strong men tried and tried to push the Jeep, but it wasn’t budging. I laughed on the inside.

When the shuttle arrived at the apartment building, the target came out just as he was supposed to. When he walked up to the shuttle’s rear entrance, he was too busy looking at his commlink to notice Freecoil standing there. Before he knew it, Freecoil grabbed him, hit him with a tranq patch and had him on the ground. The shuttle left without further incident and headed towards the parking garage where we were to meet to swap the vehicles.

After the mark was nabbed, I had BetaTest release the brakes on the Jeep. I started pushing the Jeep again and it started to move. The guards seen this and started pushing again. With little effort, the truck was pushed back into the parking space. I apologized to the security team for the delay and they went on their way again. After the shuttle rounded the turn, I hopped back into the Jeep and left the area.

Since the security team seen my Jeep, I didnt want it to be seen anywhere near the fake shuttle. The others met up with BetaTest and moved the target from Ironclad’s roadmaster to his car. The Johnson set the drop off for 13 hours from now, so we need to lay low for awhile. Probably not a good idea to bring him to my apartment, nor to BetaTest’s. I do keep a run down hole in the wall apartment in the Brooklyn neighborhood that we can use. I rarely ever come here, but it would work for now. Its also near the drop off point. I gave the team the location and decided to stop and get some shopping done. Likely didnt have anything to eat there really and breakfast burritos sound really good right now.

I met them at the apartment and cast an invisibility spell on our mostly unconscious cargo. Freecoil and BetaTest helped carry him over to the apartment. Unfortunately, there were a few Yaks there. “Drek …” I forgot that they laid claim to the area. I quietly tried to summon up a spirit, however, my concentration was out of wack. All of a sudden, I got the person approaching looked like the Yak that I killed. The spirit denied my request and I felt the reverberations course through my body and my nose started to bleed a bit. Furthermore, it appeared that they seen through the spell.

We really couldnt afford a fight right now. I was still exhausted from the invisibility spell and now the failed summoning. I turned on the charm and offered him 1000 nuyen to shut the frag up. He accepted with a smile and turned around. We went up to the apartment and got situated. I kept scanning outside to see if the Yak dreks were making any move, but they didnt. I moved to the kitchen and started making breakfast. BetaTest was talking with the guy we nabbed about what his job was. Had to put a little fear into him first to make sure he didnt cause a scene or anything. He seemed shock when I gave him a burrito to eat. Were shadowrunners, not barbarians … jeesh. Even found an old bottle of tequila that was here. I have no idea when or how, but we passed around the bottle and gave the accountant a couple of shots as well.

After eating, BetaTest and I decided to have a little fun with the target since we still had a drek-ton of time to kill. He starting asking him questions in a customer service style about how the breakfast was.

Question 1: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the customer service you were provided?
Question 2: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the burrito you just ate?

I threw in the third question.

Question 3: On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the likelihood you would suggest these breakfast burritos to family and friends?

Apparently BetaTest was taking it a little too seriously and chastised me on changing the scale range from 1 to 10 to 1 to 5. It confuses people, I guess. We had a good laugh after that. Even the accountant seemed to relax a little.

When the time came to drop the mark off, we left and headed for the warehouse we were meeting the Johnson at. It was a really shady place and seemed … normal? I say that questionably since it didn’t seem right. Something was off, but I couldn’t sense what it was. Everything seemed fine in Astral and meatspace and BetaTest said the Matrix was clear … but something still felt off.

The Johnson arrived and I got out of the car to greet them and deliver the package. We got the credsticks for pay in exchange for the accountant. As we were leaving, I caught the Johnson saying that “he will do nicely.” It sent shivers down my spine at the sound of that. But whatever, a job is a job. We were hired to extract him for the client and that is just what we did.

I got dropped off back at the apartment to pick up my Jeep and I headed back home. As I left, the Yaks were still there. I nodded as I left and he did the same. I am still not sure if I like that or not. Might need to come back and have “a little chat” with the fragger, but not making that decision right now. When I got home, I plopped on the couch and curled up to sleep. “Drek, I need to go to the shop today …” I took a nap for a couple of hours and headed in. I haven’t really been in since I got the datajack. I don’t want to deal with Star Flower and her nagging, but I had an obligation to keep. I rubbed my wrist where the jack was as I walked in the door.

The shop was empty except for Star Flower. She was sitting at the table when I walked in. “Jenessa … we need to talk, child” she said in THAT voice. “Frag me …” I muttered as I closed the door and took the chair across from her.

The Duchess Gets a New(ish) Sword …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

Everything has a price … I knew that going into this business, but now I know the meaning. I mean, we all know that we all live a violent life and death was nothing new to me. I have seen lots of death during my career, both with this new team and with Havoc Squad in San Francisco, but I have never taken a life … until now.

We were hired to steal some crates from a van, which was still on a cargo ship at sea. It was pulling into the harbor and we needed to get the creates before it docked. After the negotiations, the elephant in the room was how in the hell are we going to get aboard a cargo ship in the harbor … BetaTest called on Ironclad to see if he had a boat we could use and he did. We rented the WaveRunner … note to self, I really should get one of these … and started making the plans. We had a very small window and made the move. We boarded and found the van with the crates.

Then all hell broke loose. A Yakuza hit squad, which we thought was another runner team and was watching them through the Matrix, showed up. We tried to negotiate with them, since they were after the same crates we were, but all attempts failed. They already had a fire spirit, so I called on a beast spirit of my own and engaged them. I focused on the fire spirit while the others focused on the others, but then Kira dropped. She was using her katana and fighting two Yakuzas, and Soren started throwing fire spells, but she still faltered and fell. Without even thinking, I flung her katana into one of the Yakuza. The sword buried deep in his chest, killing him. My rat spirit tore into another one of the attackers and I flung the sword to yet another one. Within seconds, the rat tore apart one attacker and I had killed two of them with Kira’s sword. It all happened so quickly …

After the adrenaline wore off, the rest of the team started to offload the crates. Me and another went to tend to Kira and it was then that I seen what my actions had caused. It was then that I seen the person that I had killed. I dropped in a slump and could not hold back my emotions. I dropped in a slump and cried out. All I could do was look at the body and keep saying that I was sorry. My rat spirit came over to me and nuzzled his head in my shoulder. I absentmindedly petting his blood soaked fur and thanked him for his assistance. He rubbed up on me a few more times then left when I dismissed him. Once the crates were offloaded, Kira literally picked me up and carried me to the evac point. The WaveRunner was waiting below. I half expected just to fall to the water below, but she hooked me up to the rig pretty good and was able to get down to the boat. The ride to the coast was a quite and somber one for me. I dont know if there was anything said or discussed, I wasnt paying attention. All I seen was the face of the dead man back on the cargo ship.

On shore, I sent a message to the Johnson letting him know we got the stuff and to get a drop off point. While en route, it was brought up whether or not to mention the Yakuza incident. “Nobody must know what I did …” was all I could muster up to say. Not that it made a difference, they still told the Johnson about them, but atleast they didn’t tell him what I did. We got paid and went on our way. “I cant do this anymore …” I thought to myself.  I apologized to the team for my actions and let them know that I was leaving for some time off and will tell them once I get back. I went on my commlink and went to get a ticket to San Francisco, but then decided against it. I just went home instead.

I walked into the apartment and looked out over the harbor from the window. Again, all I saw were the faces of the two men looking back at me. I sat down and Rabbit jumped in my lap. I started petting him, but then realized i was still covered in blood. I looked down at Rabbit and his white fur was matted with blood. I quickly tore off the blood covered dress that I was wearing and hopped into the shower. I got all cleaned up and stepped out. I went ahead and gave Rabbit a bath as well, which he always hates. After I was all done cleaning up, I caught myself looking in the mirror. I still had blood on my face and hair. I looked at my hands and they were covered in blood again. I washed them in the sink and no matter how much I scrubbed, I could not get the blood off. I looked up again and saw only the Yakuza man’s face in the mirror. I screamed smashed my hand into the mirror, shattering it and cutting up my hand. “FRAG!” I screamed over and over again. Once I calmed down, I used some healing magic on my hand.

I grabbed my commlink and started playing the new Suicide Prophets album. I neoanarchist thrash metal tore into my ears. I hoped that it would drown out my thoughts, but it didn’t. “How do the others do this?” I thought to myself.  “How does Kira or Freecoil deal with these emotions? Do they still see the faces of those they kill? Do Walker or Eternal have these feelings as well?” I turned off the music and placed a call to Walker. I could use his advice on this. However, the wolf mage didn’t answer. “Gah!” I yelled. I walked over to the window overlooking the city and harbor again. The mental playback of the incident on the ship keeps playing over and over again. On the floor was the torn bloody dress and … a katana? “What the frag ???” I hesitated for a few minutes while I wondered if the sword was real or not. “When in the hell did I get that?” The blade of the sword still covered in blood. I finally reached down and grabbed it and it was indeed real. I swung the sword around like I have seen both Eternal and Kira do and nearly cut the table lamp in two.

Raccoon ….” I said out loud. My mentor spirit, though a little mischievous, has always been there for me. “I really should build a lodge,” I thought to myself as I protected myself with a mana barrier. Once I was protected, I projected into the Astral realm and called out to Raccoon for some help. I sat there quietly pondering how he would react to the news. “Drek” I thought as the realization of what could happen if this got out. What would Star Flower think of me, or Calypso, or … Frank … The names of those that I would disappoint kept coming and coming. Just then, the furry little trash panda showed up and nuzzled his muzzle in my arm, then sat in front of me.

My child, you seem … troubled. How can I help?” Raccoon said. At the sound of his words, I burst into tears. He waited patiently as my crying and tears subsided and I relayed everything that happened. We talked back and forth about the incident, about past events and everything that has happened through my career as a shadowrunner. By the end of the conversation, which felt like hours, my spirits were lifted and my resolve steadied. Time on the Astral plane is very different than normal time. Eventhough my conversation lasted hours, it was only a minute or two in normal time. When I was back in my body, Rabbit was laying on my chest, something he started doing recently for some ungodly reason. I picked up the katana off the floor where I dropped it and looked out the window again. The sun was starting to come up over the horizon and I could see the cargo ship that we were on docked. Then I seen the face of the Yakuza looking back at me. This time, though, my resolve steadied. I looked back at it and a smile crossed my face. His face crept into the same smile. “Yes …” I said to myself, “Raccoon was right, I will be fine.” Today is the beginning of a new Duchess …

The Duchess goes to an R&D Facility …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

So when we last left off, people, our little squad was about to get into it with the research facility guards. As the guard moved to detail Kira, I readied myself to hit the guard in the booth with a stunbolt if Soren failed. She used one of her mind spells to convince the the guard that the the scanner was malfunctioning. I took the queue from her and distracted the guard while she cast the spell. It seemed to work as we made our way to the secure part of the basement where the prototype was kept. The smoke from the smoke grenade was still billowing out of the HVAC system. I tried to convince them that the fumes may be toxic, but they had spare gas masks down here and they grabbed them.

“drek …” I thought to myself.

When we all got into the room, we decided to take the guards out. Kira and Freecoil go to take them out, but it wasnt enought to take them both out. I hit the remaining one with stunbolt and knocked him unconscious. BetaTest did his matrix mumbo jumbo and got us in. While he was hacking in to get the research notes, Freecoil and I searched around to find the actual prototype. After a few moments, he was able to decipher the pattern and get the prototype. While BetaTest was digging around, the Raccoon in me got the urge dig around, but sadly all the doors and drawers were closed. After the spell casting, I also took some time to erase my signature, in case anyone did some digging anytime soon.

So we have our prototype and our research notes and decided we would exit the place in a hurry. Soren conjured up a trid phantasm to look like the gaurds as we exited the room and through the first checkpoint. The guard there said something to one of the fake guards and I almost hit him with a spell, but it seems like he was fooled. The same with the sleepy gaurd that was at the entrance where we came in. We quickly exited the building, met up with BetaTest’s car and dumped the stolen van. We set up the meet and got paid.

So now I have a little spending nuyen in my pocket, now what to do with it. Not quite enough for a Jeep, but enough. I went back home where I have the fluffy white cat that was a part of this whole scheme. He jumped up in my lap as I sat on the couch. As I was petting him, I decided that I would keep him. I decided to change his name though and think will call him … Rabbit.  He’s soft, white and likes to jump on everything. Yep, I thought to myself, your name is Rabbit. I brought up my commlink and started doing some research on various formula for foci or alchemical items. Figured it might be time to look into making some myself.

The Duchess Gets A Mustache …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

So lets get back to the job that I am currently on.  As a recap, we were hired to steal a set of prototype cybereyes from a research facility.  We found a couple of engineers that were working on the project.  The first, we stole the lady’s cat and threatened her into leaving town for awhile.  Hopefully, BetaTest was able to get her some vacation time so she doesn’t lose her job.  I would definitely hate for that to happen.

During the time before the concert, I had to work a few days at the shop working with some foci.  I brought the cat with me so that I can keep an eye on it.  Star Feather gave me a curious look at first, but the cat seemed to like it there.  He would just lay around there, but didn’t seem nervous at all and kinda took over the place within a few hours.  After work, I didnt know if the cat would like it, but I took him to the park and all he did was just lay around and eat the grass.  I am sure that it looked weird to people that I had a cat on a lease, but drek, I have seen people walking pigs around on leashes, so why not a cat?  I stopped and picked up some his favorite food, along with some takeout, on the way home.

But anyways, back to the job.  We decided to go to the concert to see what we can gleam from that guy.  However, BetaTest was able to get more info for us.  Based on that, we planned on stealing a van and the gear from the HVAC contractor and that was going to be our way in.  So on Saturday, we went to the concert.  I tell you what, Electric Hazard turned out a pretty wicked show.  When they started to play Wageslave Ghoul, the crowd lost their fraggin minds!  I spotted our mark and met up with him on his way to the bar.  I tried smoozing him with a little flirting, but he didn’t seem to take the bait.  Times like this remind me just how young I look.  Kind of a bummer really, but Soren was able to get some information from him when he went out to smoke.  We didn’t learn all that much more from the mark, so we decided to proceed with the current plan. I stayed for the rest of the show and closed out the club. Sadly though, I wasn’t able to get to the afterparty.

The work order that BetaTest got has us posing as HVAC repairmen, complete with mustaches … which I didn’t totally understand how that would be included in a work order, but I went along with it anyways.  I didn’t sense any deception or anything and he hasn’t led us astray at all.  The work order was scheduled for midnight on Sunday, so we decided to break into the place around 9.  We needed to grab the necessary gear and steal one of the vans, but we needed to do that and get to the facility before it could be reported as stolen.  BetaTest easily enough made sure Kira, Freecoil and I could get into the place.  We grabbed some jumpsuits, air filtration masks and a box of air filters.  Kira grabbed a set of keys from a locked desk and headed out to get the van. Now that we have our way in, we needed to get to the facility and get in.

We pulled into the maintenance entrance and headed in.  At first the security guard was a little suspicious, and sleepy, of us but I quickly threw together a cover story about there being an office party for Steve’s birthday.  He called for an escort to stay with us through our work.  We already expected this, so we waited.  When he got there, we went into one of the HVAC rooms.  I convinced the guard to wait outside due to possible hazard debris.  There was not a way to get into the basement from here so BetaTest jacked into the system and caused some alarms to go off.   The guard knocked on the door and was a little curious due to the timing of the alarm and us going into the room.  I dont think he accepted my story, since he called in for some assistance.

When the other guard got there, we decided to take a little more drastic action.  The mention of using a grenade in the HVAC system made me think back to my time with Havoc Squad and Uncle Eternal’s love of high ex grenades.  I shook the thought from my head as we decided to drop a smoke grenade down.  It made a little bit more noise than I expected so I told the guard that he was distracting us and that if a tool fell down there, it could ruin the HVAC system.  A few seconds later, smoke started billowing out of the vents.  We said we needed to get to the basement to find out what is causing the issues there.  When a general alarm was raised, due to the smoke, the guard called it off momentarily.

As we were escorted down to the basement, we came to another security checkpoint.  Again, we knew this was here and expected it.  I got the sense that they were doing some scans and was relieved to remember that I did not have any weapons on me.  However, as one of the three guards moves in to detain Kira, I realized that the others on the team did smuggle weapons in.  The jig was up and our cover was blown at this point.  There was one guard in the area with us, another at the entrance and a third in a side area behind glass. Raccoon help us, I whispered to myself, as I got a spell readied.

The Duchess Gets a Cat …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

And we are off on another job.  This time were had a meet downtown at the Hyatt.  First thing Sabot says is “its downtown so make sure that you dont show up having anything that will make you stick out.”  I chuckled as I thought about my time with the Havoc Squad.  They stick out no matter where they are.  But more on them at another time.  The Hyatt is a fancy dancy place, but when we got there we had to give a matrix code to a valet.  Then an SUV pulled up.  It seemed that the rest of the team was weary of getting in, so I was the first to go.  Seemed nice enough on the inside, it had a bar and everything.  Of course, BetaTest goes straight for the booze.  I grabbed a bottle of water and waited for the Johnson to show up.

The Johnson was a mage that materialized in front of us.  Eventhough I am a mage and can do the same thing, it still gives me the chills when I see it happening.  The job presented was to break into an R&D facility here in Baltimore and acquire a prototype and accompanying data.  If we were not able to acquire it for some reason, then destroy them.  We, of course, would get more money for acquiring them though.

After we made the deal, we learned that the R&D facility is Riva Cybernetic Developments, a subsidiary of NeoNet, and the prototype is a set of cybereyes.  The prototype and datastore were kept in the basement of the facility.  After learning more about various security details, we decided to do some of our own research.  We camped outside of the business park that the facility is in.  BetaTest hacked the host and got some data on schedules, personnel files and what not.  I projected myself into the building and ran straight into a watcher spirit.  Caught off guard, both of us, I jumped back to my body before the spirit could act.

The personnel files contained information on two particular individuals.  The first one, lets say his name is “Mark.”  His social media posts indicated that he was going to a concert this weekend.  The other one, we will call her the crazy single cat lady, well had a cat.  Both of them held positions that would be beneficial to the completion of the job.  Since we had all week before we would do something with “Mark”, we decided that we would kidnap the cat.  Yes, we are kidnapping a cat and will ransom it for some information and/or access to the building.  More on “Mark” later.

We tracked down the crazy single cat lady at her apartment and staked it out.  After she left for work, Kira and I broke into the apartment, with the help of an invisibility spell and BetaTest hacking the door.  Kira was able to pick the lock to the apartment and we went in.  After some searching around, we lured the cat out of the bedroom with some food.  I tried to grab the fluffy white cat, but apparently the vicious little thing decided differently and got my arm.  Kira was able to grab the little bugger and get it into the cat carrier that we picked up.  The actual plan was to capture the cat and hit it with a slap patch to knock it out.  However, now that the cat is already in the carrier, I sure as drek am not sticking my hand in the carrier.  So I hit the cat with a low powered stun bolt to knock it out.

Apparently the commotion got the attention of a nosy neighbor.  An old lady knocked on the door asking if everything was ok.  Then she decided on calling the building super.  So now we are in some drek.  We got some much needed assistance when Soren arrived and used some mind magic on the old lady to make her think that there was some Jello left in the oven. When the coast was clear, we left the ransom note and fled the building and into the car.  Now we are planning on ransoming the cat and meeting “Mark” at the concert.  We know that the concert is at a venue that I have been to.  But as I said, more on him later.  For now, I need to get down to the Feathered Talon.  Star Flower has me working on creating some foci for a customer.

The Duchess goes to a BTL den …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

So I get this job with a new crew.  Apparently Sabot wants to get a stable team together and I was put on it.   The job was simple enough, to extract the Johnson’s family member from a BTL den.  We met the Johnson at a place called Mother’s in Federal Hill.  The place was quaint enough to make my grandmother puke.  It appeared that I was going to have to do the negotiation since none of the team had any social skills.  I was able to get the team an extra grand for the run, since he wanted it done right away.  But, like I said, it seemed like a simple enough job.

Sabot got us a line on a rigger with a Roadmaster, by the name of Ironclad.  Apparently he seems to like to run his things by remote control since he wasnt actually present.  Fair enough though.  We already know the location of the den so we set up camp nearby and start scouting the place.  All I was able to see when I went astrally was a watcher spirit … which means another mage was probably nearby.  Nothing else really stood out.  Unlike my previous teams, I found that this one was pretty cautious when scouting and planning.

After all the planning was done, we decided to send me in to get on the inside.  For me it was an idea where I could set up a two pronged attack if need be.  It also allowed the team to get additional eyes on the inside.  Not a bad idea for a party girl, if I dont say so myself.  Crap … this just came to me, in hindsight of course, but what if the guards or someone on the inside recognized me from the clubs … Need to keep that in mind in the future.

So we launched our plan and the one called Beta Test shared the view through my goggles with the rest of the team so they can all see what I see.  I walked up to the door and was able to get in easily enough.  Not to mention, I got in for free!  Guess I was the millionth customer or they liked that I was looking to ride a unicorn.  Either way, its a win for me.  When I got in to the den itself, I seen the one we were looking for, Owen. The escort led me to one of the nastiest stained mattresses I have ever seen.  Trying to delay a bit, I decided to go to the bathroom and then slowly made my way back.  Along the way back, I signaled the team that we were good to go.

Beta-Test went ahead and jacked Owen out of the BTL host.  Then the fireworks started.  I hid behind a couch while the rest of the team made their way into the den.  The two guards that were in the den positioned themselves outside the door that the team would be coming in.  I threw a spell at them that made their metal items too hot to handle and made my way over to the scared, confused Owen.  When the door to the den opened and the team came in, Freecoil I think it was.  Unfortunately, he also got hit by my spell as well.  But when the guards gave up and surrendered, I dropped the spell.  Owen and I walked hand in hand out the door and into the waiting Roadmaster.   We made the drop and got paid.  All in all, I would say it was a pretty successful run.

Now I need to wash the nastiness off of me from the den and get some sleep before the club tonight.  There is supposed to be a nova-hot DJ there and I need to get some fun in.