The Duchess Gets a Jeep! …

[San Francisco, CFS — 2074]

I got word from Calypso that she had a line on a job, so I hopped a flight to San Francisco. Just before landing, we had a meet with the Johnson through the Matrix. He was a bookish researcher for Stanford University that was investigating condors or something. He was thinking that TerraFirst! was attacking and burning down nearby stations, farms and campsites and wanted them stopped before they endangered his research stations. He was providing transportation as part of the deal, but would let me keep one of the Jeeps … yet anyways. After the deal was made, I had Walker set up a rendezvous at the old church and headed out. There were a few … changes to Havoc Squad since I last ran with them. There is another girl there that was the same age as me with cat ears and skates, but the biggest change was that Eternal had quills! Apparently SURGE has hit him and now he looks like an overgrown porcupine with a ballistic mask and sword. I couldn’t help but to poke him, but the bad thing is that he poked back and dammit those quills hurt.

We piled into the pair of Jeeps and started making our way out of the city. Along the way, we had a run in with some bike gangers, but we were able to easily persuade them to stop pursuing us with an ice sheet and some fireballs from Walker. After we left them in a pile of wrecked bikes, we proceed on to the area where the attacks were taking place.

We past by a little farm that looked like it was run by Wuxing and there were some armed gaurds patrolling. I pulled over to see how things were going and if there was anything that we should be worried about ahead. The gaurd was talking about how everything was closed due to some eco nutjobs. I directed us back to the freeway, but we continued on. When we arrived at the first campground, there were plenty of notices in AR that said the campground was closed, but we decided to investigate. It looked like a whirlwind blew through the campground. Tents and debris were strung all over and some of the buildings were demolished. Ace and Sledge were attacked by some snake. Not sure why there was so much commotion, it was just a fraggin snake, not like it was bugs or anything. Assensing the campground left me feeling uneasy about it. The mana in this area seemed … off … seemed corrupted in some way. I convinced the team to leave the campground and spend the night just outside of this place. I asked a raccoon spirit to watch over us while we slept in the Jeeps.

The next morning we picked up the trail that lead to the remains of a Ranger station. There was a spirit of man there, but it was unlike any spirit of man that I have seen. It was all twisted and covered in oozing sores. Eternal used his sword to dispatch it with ease before it could attack us, and before I could really get a look at it. There was definately something corrupted about it.

We investigated further, going offroad with the Jeeps and alot of hiking, but ended up at another destroyed logging camp. There were animals here, but they were also corrupted and toxic. It was sad to see these beasts in this state. We easily dispatched these spirits as well. For some god awful reason, Ace wanted the paw of the cougar. We found a survivor of the attack and got some details on it. The attackers were using explosives and seem to attack with a speed that caught the guards sitting on thier asses. They easily mowed over them and the guards fled.

The next day, and some more research and scouting, we narrowed down where the attackers were encamped. I decided to zip there Astrally first so that I could confirm that it was the location we were looking for. I ran into a corrupted spirit there as well, so it was the place. I retreated back to my body and worked to get a plan of attack going. I asked for help from a pair of raccoon spirits and they assisted us. Ace, who apparently IS some sort of mage, tried to summon a spirit as well. From the start, I could tell that his gestures were all wrong. One thing about spirits, if you dont respect them, they will refuse to help you and it can be painful, even deadly. With the furry little trash pandas as support, we snuck into the encampment and engaged them.

The spirits were less effective than I was hoping. I pained me to see one of them get tore up by one of the corrupted wolf spirits and … how could this happen … The enemy mage corrupted my other raccoon. Ace ran and hid his bitch ass behind a rock and the others engaged the mage and toxic spirit. I was distracted by the events with my poor raccoon spirit that I did not see the attack coming. The spirit tore into me and I went down. The last thing I remember was the distorted black mask of the raccoon spirit and a splash of my blood.

I woke up in Walkers embrace some time later. He healed my wounds and kept me safe while the rest of the team finished off the enemy threat. We eliminated the threat and got alot of the research notes that the toxic mage had. Sledge and Ace found a stash of commercial explosives and loaded them up in the Jeep (not mine). When we contacted the Johnson, we were able to secure more money for these notes AND get one of the Jeeps for me! Such a nice guy he was. With the job complete and pay secured, we headed back to the city. Sledge and Eternal were in the Jeep with the explosives and Walker, Acorn, Ace and I were in my Jeep. Just after we entered the city, I spotted an SFPD cruiser behind us. We took the offramp, while the other Jeep kept going. The police car followed me off of the freeway and pulled me over. I quickly switched from my fake SIN to my real SIN. Apparently, they wanted Ace and Walker for questioning or something. They took them into custody and let Acorn and I go. We held hands as we walked back to the Jeep and left, making sure that the Jeep’s pilot system was controlling and not me. Walker shot us a message to let us know that everything was fine, but I am not having it. Need to come up with a plan, but first, I need to get out of these clothes and cleaned up.

I mentioned to Acorn that Calypso and I were headed to a rave in an old warehouse and asked if she wanted to join. She was down, but also needed to change first. I got a hold of the elusive Tatters to help with cleaning the Jeep and making it mine. One of these days, the two of us will be on a run together, but for some reason, he never wants to go on runs that I am involved in. Not sure how I feel about that yet, but he seems pretty solid and Walker trusts him, so I am good with that. After I got cleaned up, I got a cab, picked up Acorn and headed to the party. I pulled Calypso aside before hand and discussed what was going on with Walker. Between her and Tatters, we should have enough to bail (or rescue) Walker from the SFPD. I will work with them, and the rest of Havoc, once we know more, but for now, I need to drown myself in reggae music and the smell of pineapple rum.

P.S. I wonder how I can steampunk out the Jeep ……

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 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 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.