The Duchess Goes Grocery Shopping …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

I decided to get out of bed today around 11am, that is after laying in bed for an hour or so checking various news and social media feeds. Its the day after our last run and for a Monday morning, it was relatively boring. I didn’t have any plans today, so I decided to spend the day out and about the town. I closed down the feeds on the commlink and played with Rabbit for a bit. He apparently was hungry due to the incessant meowing and I was as well. When I got out of bed, I slipped on my house slippers, that look like raccoon faces of course, and Rabbit immediately pounced on them. He really likes it when I wear them around the house, he will leap out of nowhere and attack them, then dart back into another hiding plan. “Frag!! Rabbit … damn you” I yelled when his claws went in a little too deep. I strolled out of the bedroom, still wearing my t-shirt and panties, and walked to the kitchen to get some coffee made. While it was brewing, I went ahead and fed Rabbit and decided to check out the city from the window. There were floor to ceiling windows in the living room that looked out over Baltimore and has a decent view of the harbor. The sun was out this morning, but clouds were expected throughout.

I made myself some breakfast and got dressed for the day. I needed to get some shopping done and made a list of what I needed. Now that I decided to keep Rabbit, I needed to get some more cat food and and stuff for him. I headed down to the Stuffer Shack and mostly wandered the aisles grabbing what I needed. I almost forgot to grab a pack of burritos and the food for Rabbit. As I went to the sections of the store, my AR display popped up a coupon for both of them. “SCORE!!” I went through checkout, grabbing a copy of the latest celebrity gossip magazine, and started back home.

I turned off the commlink since it started getting spammed with various celebrity news and some ads for Sir Fluffington line of cat clones by EVO. They looked strangely like Rabbit. I might have to check into if he is one of them. There were additional ads for various magical goods and, of course, upcoming concert events. I didnt feel much like looking to those now, but will at another time. I rounded the a corner and past a little boutique shop that had some antiques. Curious, I stopped in and checked around. I turned my commlink back on and brought up my AR display. There were some various odds and ends and even some 5th world trinkets. A small glass case caught my eye and there was a small silver amulet in it. I did a quick image search on the amulet and it was what I thought it was. A 5th world rendition of a symbol for my Shamanic tradition … and only 200 nuyen!! I got all giddy and bought it. It was a perfect fit.

I kept walking down the street and looking at then amulet. You know what, this would make a perfect telesma for a foci. I stopped in my tracks all of a sudden and looked around. Nothing …

Strange” I said to myself.

I kept walking, but someone … or something was watching me. I didn’t notice anyone around me so I shifted to look in the Astral plane, but nothing was there either. I picked up the pace as I finished the walk back to my apartment. I rounded the last corner and into the doors of the building. I stopped again to look around. Again nothing … I looked Astrally and what I say nearly knocked me off my feet.

What the frag!” I said in shock. “Dammit Raccoon!

Raccoon simply laughed and moseyed on his way. At least I knew that if nobody else was there for me, I could always count on Raccoon to be there. I laughed and went into my apartment. Rabbit was on the chair in front of the window soaking in the sun. I put away the groceries and gave Rabbit a new toy to play with. Of course he just looked at me in shock for disturbing him and went back to sunning himself.

So now that I have that stuff done, I need to get down to the shop and get some supplies for a magical lodge and have Star Feather make a focus for her.  She starts putting another list together.

Looks like today is going to be a shopping list day, Rabbit“. The cat again looks like “how dare you disturb me, woman!” I laughed and said, “one day we would be able to know what you say in your head and we will all live in fear …

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 Down and Dirty …

[San Francisco — 2074]

So in continuation with what I was saying previously. Calypso set me up with meeting the teams’s decker, Tatters, to get the data off of the other teams commlinks.  I think I may have caught him off guard a bit, but he was able to get some data off of them.  There was just some procedural info, but nothing really on the Johnson.  Later that day, I had the team meet up with me at the club to plan out the warehouse raid.  It was within walking distance, so we walked to it.  I felt like I was in one of those old western trids from the 5th age that Frank always talks about.  I must admit that I got a little rush out of it.

When we got to the area around the warehouse, we scouted the buildings and posted up on a rooftop.  Eternal scouted ahead and posted up just outside the warehouse, Bowjack used his flyspy drone to scout inside the warehouse and Walker scouted it out Astrally.  It appeared that the warehouse itself was empty, but they found a passageway that led down into a network of tunnels underneath.  It was warded so there has to be a spellcaster involved.  Eternal left to get some bigger gear and while we waited, the dwarf was caught on the flyspy coming up from deeper in the tunnels.  It appears that there is very little, if any, Matrix signal down there.

When Eternal arrived with his gear, there was a new person there.  They called in assistance from another teammate of theirs.  A troll that goes by Viking.  I made him an offer for him to join in on the run and it was accepted.  I still have a little in the remainder for what I wanted to do still.  You see, Walker risked his life for me the previous night with the drone an I wanted to repay him.  I had Calypso get me a wolf pup for him.  Hopefully she was able to get one on such short notice.

But anyways, now that the team is together, we proceeded into the warehouse and down the tunnel.  It was dark and dusty down there, but we cautiously moved down there.  I slipped a little on the way down and my outfit got even dirtier.  To make matters worse, another behind me slipped and kicked a bunch of dirt and mud in my fraggin’ HAIR.  What the frag, this will take FOREVER to get out.  Apparently speaking out my disgust was a bad thing since Eternal looked at me with that look that Frank gives me when he was disappointed in me.

We moved further down the tunnels and came upon a room.  Eternal started poking around at some mounds and some giant ass ants came up to attack.  So not only is my outfit dirty, I have dirt and mud in my hair, but now I have do deal with some damn bugs!  However, before I knew it, Eternal had the bugs slain.  For some reason, the troll Viking swept me up along with Bowjack and carried us into there.  Now this is starting to piss me off.  I scratched and hit him, but he just simply carried me in and put me down.  But there was more serious issues now.  There were a couple of tunnels leading from here and there were clanking noises, and alot of them, headed this way.  Eternal used some grenades to close down all the tunnels but one to limit their access to us.

Then came in the grotesque bugs that look more humanoid than the ants previously.  To prepare for the onslaught, I summoned a spirit in the form of Raccoon for assistance.  When I noticed that they were wearing armor, so I cast a spell that would affect them.  Unfortunately, the next wave wasn’t really affected by it.  Good thing that Sledge, Raccoon and Viking were there to hold them off.  I also seem to recall a pretty well placed lightning bolt from Walker as well.  After the waves were done, we moved further down the tunnel.  I had to remind the team that their job was to find out what happened to the kidnapped victims AND stop the threat.

It took some hiking around in the tunnels, thankfully Eternal marked the way down, we came across a large cavern.  There were a couple of people strung up that look to be in pain.  Walker pointed out that this is a lodge and that we needed to disrupt it.  The others started moving rocks and stuff around and I summoned an earth spirit to assist us.  Once the boulder materialized and started moving around, the whole place started shaking. When it stopped a few moments later, Walker confirmed that the Insect Shaman’s lodge was destroyed.  Eternal and Viking freed the captives and luckily they were still alive!

There were way too many tunnels to further explore and chances are the shaman has already escaped.  As we prepared to leave, I asked Eternal to use the remainder of his explosives to bring down the cavern and the tunnels.  I told him that I would reimburse him for the grenades and he happily obliged. So as we escaped back through the tunnels, he planted explosives with the help of Sledge and his construction knowledge.  Apparently, Bowjack had already left and met up outside the tunnels.  I wonder if the bit of shaking that we experienced frightened him.

So with the job done, I took the team out to dinner and paid them.  I was happy to hear that Calypso was able to get the puppy.  I also had her grab me some high ex grenades to give to Eternal and she would have them when I get the puppy.  I picked them up and met them at a diner in San Francisco proper, paid them, gave Walker and Eternal their gifts and provided dinner.  For some reason, Bowjack starts spouting off about the puppy and novacoke.  Walker and I left, along with Eternal, and apparently there was some commotion back at the diner with Bowjack and Sledge.  What happened next still haunts me ….

I must admit that for my first excursion into the shadows, this was a pretty good team, with a few exceptions of course.  I spent a few days more in San Francisco with Calypso and then caught a flight back to Baltimore.

 

The Duchess gets to be a Johnson ….

[San Francisco, CFS — 2074]

I was not expecting a call from Calypso today, but here we are talking for about a half hour about some issues at the Cerebus Club in San Francisco. She wanted to bring me out to assist with the job and be her Johnson. Of course, I would go. Its a club and its Calypso asking. So yeah, booked a ticket and flew out that night. Never doing that again, red-eye flights are the WORST! We went over the missing people from the club and recognized one of them right off the bat. Laura was a bartender there and the two of us hit it off right from the bat. She introduced me to a few new groups and some nova-hot tracks. Most of which are still on my regular playlist. A few of the others are familiar, but all are either from the club or live in the neighborhood.

She set me up with her runner team. A fresh team to the Bay Area that relocated from the Tir. They were called the Havoc Squad. Their decker wouldnt be there since Calypso has him working on another project, but the others should be. She set the meet and all but a few showed up. There was Eternal, which was a scary ass street sam that never took off his mask. He seemed to be the enforcer in the group. There was Bowjack, their rigger. Seemed normal enough at first. Then there was Walker. I recognized the Wolf totem he carried so I knew he was Awakened. Apparently one of them, one called Ajax, met an unfortunate end and his replacement was an Ork named Sledge. We negotiated the pay and they accepted the job, even with the caviat that I would be along as well.

The club had a show that night and the following one, so the team only had a few hours before they needed to get to work. Holy drek, that was a wicked awesome DJ there. His name was DJ Thor Shot and his drek was hot! I also added some of his tracks to my regular playlist. But anyways, they team was going to be providing security for the club and keeping an eye on things. Eternal posted up on a nearby rooftop to keep an eye on the outside. Sledge was watching the door, Bowjack watching the bar and Walker watching Astrally. There was a little commotion as Bowjack and Sledge were hassling one of the patrons. Something about novacoke, but I pulled them both aside and had to tell them to pay attention to the job at hand. I dont think that they were taking me seriously. It seemed all they see is a girl that was dancing on the floor. Well yeah, its a club so of course I was dancing. I set them straight, but I still didnt think that my authority as the Johnson really kicked in. That or they were not used to working with the Johnson.

After a few hours, a few individuals were looking suspicious. I had Walker and Sledge keep an eye on them and Bowjack stay at the bar. Eternal found a drone scouting around outside and took it out. After that, a person started to leave. Walker and I quickly moved to intercept and question him while Bowjack and Sledge remained at the club. Even before I could get out there, the guy was already unconscious with Walker standing over the top of him. He wasnt dead, just out cold. As I looked him over, all of a sudden, Walker grabbed me from behind at my waist and pulled himself over me. “What the frag ???” I thought to myself. Until the hail of bullets sprayed us from another drone. Walker had pulled me away and shielded me from the bullets. I dont think any of them hit, but he won points in my book.

Eternal easily took the drone out before I even knew what was going on. In another instance, he noticed a truck that started to pull down the street we are on, then change course. Bowjack pulled his roadmaster, which he strangely calls his “taco tank” for some reason, over to us. Walker and I put the unconscious guy in the back. By this time, Eternal had already shot out the rear tire, repelled down and was chasing the truck. Yes, he was chasing the truck like a stray dog. I summoned an air spirit to assist him with catching up to the wrecked truck. I also had Bowjack drive us there to assist. Sledge was also on foot running after Eternal.

When we all got there, Eternal and Sledge had the wrecked truck covered. A trio of other shadowrunners were out of the back of the truck. “Great” I thought to myself as Walker and I got out. I had them put down their guns and take a seat as we questioned them. Surprisingly, they did as they were told. One of them, an Awakened woman, kept being mouthy, so I had the air spirit engulf her to keep her and the others in line. Soon enough they were telling us what was going on. They were hired by a Johnson to kidnap people in the area and were paid per head. The only description they had of him was that he was a dwarf. I took their commlinks to have them checked. As a show of professional courtesy, I had them cuffed together, stripped of their gear and had my air spirit carry them to a nearby high rooftop.

So here is what we know. A dwarf hired some shadowrunners to kidnap people and take them to a nearby warehouse. So our next step is to check out these commlinks and scout out the warehouse. Hopefully, these people are still alive, but since no ransom was received … well lets just hope they are ok.

The Duchess meets the Caribbean Queen …

[San Francisco, CFS — 2074]

OH!, I thought to myself as I seen the alert for a concert date that is coming up. Forsaken Nexus is coming to town. Last time I seen them was in San Francisco awhile ago. It was at an underground club there. Come to think of it, that may have been one of my first excursions into the Shadows.

I was originally there on a sort of vacation. I took a week or so off and decided to fly out to the Bay Area and check out the club scene there. It had been years since the occupation and things were starting to pick up there again. So I figured why not? I caught a flight and off I go.

When I got there and through airport security, then onto my hotel room, I started checking around to see what was happening. Come to think of it, I was 14 or 15 and nobody had said anything about a teenager flying across the to another nation and staying in a hotel all by themselves. Eh, I thought to myself as I unpacked and started to plan things. I seen that there was this neo-anarchist ork rock band playing at this club. After hearing a few cuts from Forsaken Nexus, I thought it would be a fun concert to go to. So I made the plan to go there.

When I got to the club, holy drek was it nova hot! The band was wicked awesome and I was having a blast out on the dance floor. The band took a break and the DJ took over, but the intensity was still the same. I bumped into another young woman with dark tanned skin , green eyes and short brown hair. She spoke with a caribbean accent and said she was from the Carib League. She introduced herself as “Calypso” and we hit it off from the start.

We danced the night away and talked about all kinds of different things. I knew she was much older than me, but it didnt seem to matter to her and I certainly didnt care. Everyone that she talked to, she would call “my dears” except me. Any reference to me was “her baby girl”. I kinda liked the pet name she had for me.

After we left the club, a couple of ork assholes started to harrass us. That was when we found out that we both were Awakened. She seemed impressed with my abilities and she was certainly someone that I could learn from. Over the next week, we spent alot of time together at various clubs or practicing magic. It was great to have a mentor that was into the same things that I was. I mean, Star Flower is great and all, but she jut didnt understand me. Calypso, on the other hand, did.

When it got towards the end of my stay there, we got into a discussion about my parents. I told her what had happened and about the letter that I received. That was when she told me that she was a fixer, much like Sabot was back in Baltimore. She used to be a shadowrunner herself and now has settled into a new role that she enjoyed. I admitted to her that I was interested in the work and that I was getting set up with Sabot in Baltimore. She was glad to hear that and said that she will keep in touch.

We talked quite a bit since then and even met up a time or two when I would get out there. San Francisco has sorta become a second home for me. After I got settled in as a shadowrunner, there was a standing agreement between us that we would be there for each other if needed. I still called on her from time to time for various reasons, even just to catch up. It still makes me smile when I hear her call me by her pet name.

But anyways, with Forsaken Nexus coming to town, I have got to go see them. I gave Calypso a heads up and invited her to come to Baltimore for the show, but she is to busy there and unable to make it. To bad too, that would have been fun to host her in my neck of the woods for a change. Anyways, I need to get tickets to that show …

The Duchess Gets Arrested …

[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]

There isn’t much going on tonight, so I am flipping through the various trid channels and nothing on either.  “Gah!”  I put down the trid remote and went to look out the window.  I had a pretty good view of the harbor, but not today.  Storm clouds have rolled in and is dumping a pretty good amount of rain.  “GAH!  Sometime I hate this city.  Nothing on the trid, nothing going on at the clubs, fragging boring night.”  A set of flashing lights from a passing police car catch my attention and a small smirk appears on my lips.

It wasnt that long ago that I had an up close and personal encounter with law enforcement.  Of course this was before I started being a shadowrunner.  I was leaving the club with some friends and we happened to come across a Jeep that was parked and the keys left in it.  “Really??”  I thought to myself.  I looked around and there wasnt anyone around.  We hopped in and took it for a little spin.  After a few hours, we caught the attention of local law enforcement.  Of course we were detained. I was 14, no license and driving a car that was stolen.  We were taken to the precinct and I thought for sure that Frank was going to kill me when he found out.  I was taken into an interrogation room and must have sat there for a few hours.  Talk about boredom.  Four walls with those see through windows, dim lights and hard uncomfortable chairs.  I glance away from the window and look at the plush couch that sits nearby.

A police detective walked in and sat down in front of me.  I tensed up waiting for the interrogation to start and wondering what they are going to pin me with.  The detective, Carl Weatherman, look at my file then looked at me.  “Jenessa” he says to me. “I have already notified your guardian, Frank Walters, and he is on his way down.  However, I knew your parents.

What the frag??”  I thought to myself.  They died 8 years ago.  Apparently, the look on my face gave me away.  Detective Weatherman put his hand on mine.

They were good people and friends of mine.  Do you know how disappointed they would be if they knew you were out stealing cars?”  He says.  He then took a key from his pocket and unlocked the handcuffs that were still around my wrists.

Whats going on??”  I asked credulously.

“You are free to go once Frank gets here.  As I said, your parents were good friends of mine, and because of that, I am releasing you to your guardian with a warning” the detective said.

About then, Frank walks in with that scowl on his face.  “drek, this is going to be a long ride home ….” I thought to myself.

Thanks Carl, I really appreciate this” Frank says as he and the detective clasp hands.

Anytime Frank

They both looked at me then and it made me feel so damn small.  It was like the entire world grew ten times bigger.  Frank and the detective escorted me out of the precinct and, surprisingly enough, the friends I was with were also similarly released.  I hopped into Franks car and he drove me home.  And, just as I thought, it was a long quiet drive.  When we got to my apartment, he looked at me and simply said “You disappointed me tonight, Jenessa“.  The look on his face said it all.  I got out of the car and went to bed once I got up to the apartment.  That certainly was not the first or last time that I disappointed him.

I snapped back to reality and looked around my apartment.  I wonder what Detective Weatherman would say now that I am a shadowrunner.  I already knew that Frank was disappointed in the decision, but he understands why.  “You know what” I said out loud.  “I am going to get one of those Jeeps!”  I brought up some shopping apps to get some pricing on some, along with the modifications I wanted.  “Damn, I am going to need to get some more jobs lined up if I want to get this.”  I closed the shopping apps and turned the trid back on.  Still nothing to watch.

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.

The Duchess gets introduced …

So what can I say about me .. well, I am just your normal average teenager living in the Sixth World. Only, I am not. I am an orphan. Both of my parents were killed in a car accident when I was very young. UCAS investigators have reported their deaths as an accident. Since the accident, I have been in the care of Frank Walters. He is my financial planner. One good thing that has come from the death of my parents is that they left me a sizable trust fun and left Frank as the trustee. He set me up with a nice apartment in the Canton neighborhood, which has a fairly good view of the bay! Its close to the downtown club scene that I love to be apart of and there is still enough for a monthly stipend that I get. All in all, its a nice little get up. One of the things that he is requiring of me is to get a job. I was lucky enough to have my mentor, Star Flower … I think thats her name, but its what everyone calls her … but anyways, she has a talismonger shop in town nearby the apartment. She set me up with a part time job at the Feathered Talon and continues to mentor me. She was the first to see me as Awakened and introduced me to Raccoon. I will get into him more later. Life has been pretty good to me as of late. I was able to maintain the part time job during the day and party at the various clubs at night. Recently, I started to get into fashion and was estatic when Vashon Island released thier steampunk line of clothing. I quickly grabbed up what I could and had it customized. Frank wasnt too happy that I dropped a large lump of sum on an outfit, but he just doesnt understand fashion. I have it set that it shows different outfits and color schemes in an AR overlay. Still, the outfit just wasnt complete until I found a matching set of aviator goggles! Now when I go out clubbing, its like “what is Jenessa going to be wearing in AR this time?”. I have nutured and built quite the reputation among the clubbing crowd. Its like they look forward to what I will be wearing at the next party or which AR overlay will be next.

Then one morning it happened. 10 years after the death of my parents, I get a letter slipped under the door of my apartment. It simply said “It wasnt an accident”. What the frag! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I read that simple line over and over and over again. What does this mean? I went to the file cabinet that had a copy of the UCAS investigation report. I read over the entire report again and nothing seemed to jump out at me as odd. I hopped into the shower to get ready for the day and get dressed. There was a party going on down at the Lotus club that was supposed to be hopping. They booked a Maria Mercurial cover band that is supposed to be pretty good and gather a huge crowd. Naturally, I had to be there. But back to what I was saying. As I left for the club, there was another envelope that was under my door. I stopped and stared at it for a few moments. I hopped into Astral space to see if there was anything magical going on or any other presence around, but there was none. This time, it was a more cryptic message. “Look to the Shadows to shed the Light.” Look to the shadows … shadows … Those that refer to the shadows are generally regarded as Shadowrunners. Now I have heard of them and seen what the trids about them. But what would they have to do with the death of my parents. From the general consensus, they are generally anti-megacorp. As far as I knew, my parents had nothing to do with any of the megas. My mom and dad both held positions in the UCAS government, what exactly I dont know, but could that have something to do with thier death?

While I was at the Lotus enjoying myself, I could not stop the nagging in the back of my head. Now Raccoon knows that once I get that feeling, I need to follow it until its end. I once heard of a fixer named Sabot that had a connection with the shadows. I set up a meeting with him to see if he was able to assist me with what I was looking for. He simply said “Even the darkest shadows cannot keep things from the light.” It sounded just a cryptic as the note that was left. Before I started running the shadows, however, I needed some equipment. I met with Frank, explained my plan and requested some money to get started. He scoffed at the idea of my being a shadowrunner, and of course, turned down my request for more nuyen. Fine then, I told myself, I will just get it elsewhere. I then went to Star Flower and asked for some money. She told me that the Shadows were a dangerous place to be. Even all the training that she has given me would be put to the test there. She offered to help me with the training, but declined to give me any money. Both of them supported me searching for the truth, but didnt necessarily support me looking around in the shadows for answers. Where the hell else am I supposed to get the money I need. Thats when a party girlfriend of mine linked me up with Legs. He was a creepy dude, but also a bookie and would be able to help. He fronted me a pile of nuyen, set up agreeable terms and set me up with what I needed.

After I got the money I needed, Sabot pointed me where I needed to get a fake SIN and licenses. I certainly did not want to be broadcasting my UCAS SIN when running the shadows. I picked up some other gear, got my Vashon outfitted with what was needed and even upgraded my aviator goggles with some handy upgrades. I chose to go by the name “Duchess”, which was a nickname that was given to me by my dad when I was just a baby. I went back to Sabot and he started to include me on a few lower end runs to get my feet wet on what was to come. As it turns out, my magical abilities, along with my pistol crossbow, were very much useful on these runs. Surprised that I was sticking to this course, Sabot was ready for me to get bigger and better runs. He told me to keep an eye on my commlink for messages from him regarding the next meet. Until then, I guess, its business as usual for me. I still maintain my day job at the Feathered Talon and still maintain a nightlife on the local club circuit, gotta keep those fans satisfied. Which reminds me, I need to get ready for a party down at the Lotus tonight.