Downtime and Information Gathering

Deciding to stay in Portland for a long term, Jinan obtained a room at the Surehand flophouse and Greg secured long term lodging at the Tesrae ti Cirolletishsa (traveler’s estate) Hotel. Rusty decided that he had all he needed in his workshop and decided to sleep in the van. The team learned of a number of news stories. Hestaby was negotiating a peace in Tir Tairngire’s long struggle with the California Free State. A new street drug had been making inroads in Seattle and Portland called Silver Key. Orichalcum, the astrally active element, was discovered in large amounts on Mars, the UCAS government, the Japanese government, and the Sombra corporation were all calling for more immigrants to Mars to assist the new mining effort. An experimental hotsim VR rig that allowed the user to experience the matrix at superhuman speeds was on display at the museum of science. The Tir Tairngire Star Chamber was to consider signing the corporate accords to improve the nation’s struggling economy and break fully with the Elvish past. Both Greg and Jinan decided to pursue initiation. Greg decided to join AWE, and they asked him to infiltrate Lorfwyr’s abandoned mansion and return with the Jewel of Memory, a large gem containing all of former UCAS President Dunlezahn’s stored memories. Jinan decided to undertake a vision quest in the awakened forest.

Bike Race Bike Race

To prepare Rakeel’s bike to beat its former owner in a race, Rusty went to the Land of Promise Mechanics Shop, and impressed them with his mechanical knowledge. The shop, an Ancients front, agreed to sell him restricted and illegal bike modifications. The team loaded the Thundercloud Contrail with a nitrous system and a gyroscopic crash avoidance system. The team went to start the street race around downtown Portland. Several of the elvish bikers crashed, but with Rusty jumped into Jinan’s bike, the runners were able to win the race by a wide margin. Rakeel agreed to stop attacking foreign students and the runners left the bike race much richer.

Jumped by Racists
And Their Racist Friends

Finnrodd Luinwe, foppish terrorist dilettante offered to pay the runners to deal with attacks that had befallen non elvish students at Casa Tir University. Jinan went to the society of healers and met with students who had been beaten savagely. She found out the attacks had been primarily between the campus and Lorfwyr park, the memorial to the fallen dragon who had set on the Tir Tairngire council of princes. The team decided to send Greg to get jumped. As a Aztlaner dwarf in a city of pale white elves, he stuck out like a short brown thumb. A group of Ancients, an ‘elves only’ biker gang, jumped Greg in the street. He was quickly knocked down before he could employ his magic successfully. Jinan jumped in and knocked out Rakeel, the leader of the small group of Ancients. Seeing their leader fall, the others quickly fled on their bikes. Rusty hacked Rakeel’s bike, while Jinan took him to the storage facility headquarters of AWE for interrogation. He told them he was attacking foreign students on his own, without the backing of the larger Ancients organization. Jinan offered to let him go if the student attacks would stop. He said he would gladly stop the attacks if Jinan could best him in a motorcycle race. She agreed and the team set to prepping the stolen bike to best its former owner.

Charred Trolls

With the ship docked in the harbor, the team opened the shipping crate. Kokusho sent a psychic message, and a short time later a team of Ghosts, the elite special forces of the metahuman nation, showed up to transport the dragon’s crate away. He asked that the team meet with him before hearing any other offers. When they did, in a posh office in the Casa Tir federal building they told him about the troll shakedown operation. Kokusho offered to pay the team to take out the trolls. The team also met with AWE and delivered Mayhew’s research notes. Finnrod Luinwe, the wealthy head of the terrorist group, offered the team a hefty payday to negotiate with the trolls to join the struggle for metahuman power as mercenaries. Angry at having been shaken down and having to flee from a fight to protect their employer, and uncertain if the student revolutionaries would really be able to handle hardcore criminals like the trolls the team decided to take the vigilante work. The runners approached quietly under cover of darkness and took the trolls by surprise. Ji nan shot the troll leader in the back of the head and Greg summoned a fire spirit to char the troll thugs before they’d know what hit them. The troll shaman attempted to banish, but he was quickly engulfed in flames. A rocket took out remaining trolls on the bridge. Reinforcements arrived in a speedboat, but seeing all their companions dead, they threw themselves on the mercy of the runners. The team decided to let these last trolls go and collected the weapons and armor of the others. The team was invited to join Jackpoint, the premier Seattle runners matrix community, and Rusty built his rep with posts about killing the trolls, and with trideo footage of Trunko, the monster of the Salish sea. When the team collected their payday from Kokusho, he offered them further work, but only if they’d agree to a long term exclusive deal. Deciding that spy and dragon were two strikes against his trustworthiness, the team declined.

Aquatic Adventures

Their scaly cargo stowed below, the team left Seattle. Before leaving the harbor for the Salish sea, they were fired upon by mysterious assailants. The Yakuza, angered at being cut out of the sweet bribery and intrigued by the suspicious cargo had decided to make a raid. Rusty scrambled the Nimrod assault drone and began hacking Yakuza speedboats. The Nimrod fired a rocket to dispatch the Yakuza firing from a nearby island. Ji nan shot the Yakuza members on one speedboat, and Greg used a fire spirit to immolate the Yakuzas on the other boat. With their hull somewhat damaged, but richer by two speedboats, the team began heading south for the mouth of the Columbia river. Halfway through their journey they were attacked. A hairy toothed whale with an elephants trunk reared out of the water and tried to ensnare their vessel. With their ship already damaged by the Yakuza attack and their valuable cargo able to pay them or eat them, the team decided against fighting this sea-monster. They had Rusty ram it with one of their recently acquired speedboats. When it began to grapple the boat with its trunk, the team made a hasty escape. Shortly past the mouth of the Columbia river, the team encountered a drawbridge where a team of heavily armed trolls demanded a hefty bribe to allow the boat past. Ji nan counter offered the remaining stolen Yakuza boat. The trolls assumed the teams apparent generosity masked even more valuable cargo. The trolls’ shaman was intrigued by the mana barrier on the shipping crate and Ji nan offered to show him what it was. He came aboard, but once he entered the hold Ji nan slapped a tranquilizer patch on him bringing him to his knees, and hit him with a shock glove which zapped him to unconsciousness. Ji nan showed the troll leader his magical companion’s predicament and offered to let the shaman live if the team could leave unmolested. As a sign of good faith she even offered to let the trolls keep the speedboat bribe. Less than an hour later, the team was pulling into Casa Tir (Portland) the capitol of Tir Tairngire, the land of promise.

It Takes a Crook

The team arrived in Seattle’s Everett marina district to arrange surreptitious transportation for a large dragon. They arranged to charter a research boat so that they could store the dragon in the hold used for cargo or submersible launches, but they learned the real challenge in getting out secretly was in greasing the right palms. They went to meet with Harbormaster Rickard, a fat corrupt slug of a man. He demanded a bribe, but when Ji nan asked if there was any equivalent work that could be done, he said he’d been looking for an excuse to shut down one of several bars run by the local crime families, and he also told them they would need to obtain the protection of one of those crime families to leave unmolested. Ji nan arranged a meet with the head of the local Triad. Though initially he panicked, thinking Ji nan was Yakuza, she allayed his fears and then soothed his misgivings in the best way, with money. Since the Triad really ran the harbor, he assured Ji nan they would have no trouble with their cargo. The group settled on putting Danny’s bar out of business so they decided the rob a yacht owned by a local gambler and pin the crime on the mafiosos that controlled the bar. Rusty hacked a drone that was a croupier and used it to create a ruckus. The guards on the boat were attending to the drone and Ji nan followed them and sneaked into the casino room. Rusty returned the drone to normal functioning, and when the guards left, Rusty hacked open a safe and Ji nan walked out with poker chips that were credsticks holding various amounts of ¥. When the team went to plant the credsticks outside the bar, they discovered a body that had been entirely drained of blood in a dumpster. They anonymously reported this to the knights errant, who discovered the body. The team watched the knights shoot it out with the vampire and her mafia goons from afar. With the harbormaster and Triad under control, the team loaded a special shipping crate painted with thermographic paint and enchanted as a manabarrier onto the chartered research vessel and set sail for Casa Tir, the capitol of Tir Tairngire.

Superstitious and Cowardly

In need of funds to enable trafficking something as conspicuous as a dragon, the team turned to Anita for a mission where money was the only object. The Hellhound biker gang had stolen a shipment of drugs from the Halloweeners, a Barrens street gang. The team arranged a meet with the hellhounds, offering to sell a shipment of deepweed. On arriving at the bar, Rusty hacked its security features, putting the place on lockdown during the meet. A hellhounds liutenent and some goons approached the Adventurevan and were promptly jumped. The hellhounds lieutenant wielded a katana with an aura that identified it as a focus. Ji nan was hit hard and knocked down, meanwhile Greg peppered the goons with stunbolts and manabolts while Rusty’s LEBD drone fired shotgun blasts at the clueless gangsters. The lieutenant met an early end and it was determined his commlink would have the location of the stolen shipment. A short hack later, and the team was off to the warehouse. A quick look inside with astral perception revealed many armed gangsters with little else to do than shoot intruders. The team decided another tactic would be in order. Sending a txt from the deceased lieutenant’s commlink they alerted the warehouse team that the lone stars were on to them. Simultaneously, Greg used illusion magic to produce phantom sirens. The hellhounds grabbed their stolen contraband and went for a storage facility that had been rented by their “leader.” Once there, Rusty used his hacked access to the facilities door to seal them in a courtyard where Ji nan hit them with a CS gas grenade. Once the gangsters passed out, the runners grabbed the drug shipment (as well as the hellhound’s weaponry) and left the passed out gang none the wiser. Anita reclaimed her deepweed with that deal having been botched, and the team delivered the stolen shipment back to the Halloweeners for a hefty payday.

“Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot”-Batman

Episode...uh...9...i think...
The Best Way to Win a Race is to Be The Only One In It

Outside the Tyrell arcology Rusty and Jinan are waiting with the sasquach for Anita to arrive in her big rig. Greg is hustling towards their location to learn more about the dragon, and his fire spirit is perched atop Rusty’s van, waiting to defend it as ordered. Rusty’s optic-X picks up the movement of what appears to be a Tyrell emergency response team approaching the rear of the building. Jinan moved into a position of cover behind some trees bordering a porch entrance to the building. As the special forces team rounds the corner, their leader dashes up to the edge of the porch, apparently only seeing the sasquach and fires on the creature, which utters a pathetic ‘Mburrhurrerr’ as it retreats back into the relative safety of the garage. Jinan swings her predators out on either side of the tree she is behind, using the smartguns’ guncams to zero in on the team leader. Two shots ring out, their rounds finding home in the mystic’s grey matter, as his aura flickers and fades. He slumps to the ground, dead.

The response team recovers from their shock at seeing their leader felled in 2 shots, and their combat training kicks in. They move to similar cover opposite Jinan and swarm her position with bullets. The tree provides decent cover, but she still is stung by several rounds that thud into her armor. Rusty’s roto and doberman drones begin to file out of the garage and open fire on the hitsquad, laying down sufficient suppressive fire to allow Rusty to move the van out of the loading dock, making room for Anita. As Anita pulls in she warns Rusty that the Lonestar have been alerted to gunshots and are on their way. Sure enough in the distance the sirens of approaching badges could be heard. The Dragon and the sasquach begin to climb aboard the trailer as Rusty’s icon races down the cyberlanes to the nodes of the approaching cop cars.

Jinan, wanting to provide cover for the defenseless dragon and wookie throws a thermal smoke grenade onto the porch. This forces the remaining assault team to press forward around the smoke to find better angles. They sweep into position and again open fire on Jinan and the drones. Jinan manages to evade or absorb most of the fire again, but the remaining rotodrone is not so lucky and falls from the sky, trying to maneuver to a better vantage above the roof. The doberman does not fair much better, and it climbs onto the porch one of the assault team guns it to pieces. Rusty barely has time to notice as he begins to scour the lonestar car’s node for weaknesses. By this time Greg has rounded the corner of the building, and takes stock of the situation. With the dragon and co. loaded Anita begins to pull the truck out, wanting to make a quick getaway before more heat is drawn or their IDs splashed all over the evening news trids. As the truck pulls away, the assault team is reeling, coping with the loss of their commander and the confusing milieu. Greg spots them, and and an impish grin flashes across his face briefly before it draws into concentration. He pulls his fetish from his cloths, draws the mana to his will, and shapes it into an ember. Fanning the flame with his intent, the ember erupts into a fireball that issues, screeching across the loading dock. One of the mercs has his wits about him enough to dodge away to safety, but the other is consumed in a righteous pyre. The other closes ground with Greg and tries to subdue him, landing a blow into the dwarfs stocky frame. But Greg, still coursing with energy, gazes into the eyes of his attacker, dominating his will.

Jinan runs across the street, firing on one of the mercs as she passes. He is knocked down but not out. Another in the street is not prepared for Anita to be pulling onto the road and us crushed beneath the massive tread of the trailer. By this time, Rusty has hacked the node of the foremost oncoming cop car without being detected by its firewall. Just as the car reaches its top cruising speed Rusty issues the command to fully engage the emergency brake. As the vehicle lurches to a halt, the car behind it unwittingly and unavoidably crashes into the back of it. Both cars go skidding over the curb and rock into the side of some dumpsters, their drivers presumably dead. Thoroughly pleased with this result, Rusty pulls the van around so that Greg and Jinan can board more easily, which they both do after Jinan dispatches another merc. The one mind controlled by Greg, however, is compelled to dash off to where the other Lonestars cops are already passing Anita and approaching the van. It seems these will be able to give chase and potentially identify the team. But just as they pass Greg covers the road beneath the lead car in a sheet of ice. Suddenly thrown into skids, the two cars careen into each other and stop with a crash. Whatever was left of the occupants is quickly finished off by a hail of bullets from the mind controlled merc. Jinan chuckles and speaks to Rusty over her subvocal mic.

“Remind me not to piss this guy off, Rust!”

- – - – -

Rusty communicates with Anita over commlink while he drives, telling her that the heat is off their tail and arranging to meet at her workshop in Redmond ASAP, urging her not to look inside til he arrives. While this is happening, Jinan and Greg introduce themselves more properly. Once Greg realizes that the pair has no intention of harming the dragon and are in fact trying to effect its restoration, and Jinan realizes that Greg is not likely to be a spy from Tyrell sent to track them, they agree to work together and try to return the dragon to it’s country. Greg tells Jinan about the halloweener he interrogated, but all she can figure from that info is that perhaps Tyrell had gotten wind of their B&E and set the gang on them to waylay them til the team arrived. But if that were the case, why did the team seem so startled to see them: approaching in a cluster rather than tactically surrounding the building, and falling quickly to their fire. She cannot reason more, and writes it off.

They stop in at Jinan’s apartment before going to Anita’s shop. Jinan changes out of her now out-of-place camouflage suite and into her less conspicuous armored jacket. She tries to quickly find a secure place to stash the datachip with their evidence record, but not being able to find something suitable in the short time available she decides it is likely safer with them and keeps it with her. A strange tension hangs over the group, as though they have forgotten something important that they just cant remember. They pile back in the van and proceed to Anita’s chop-shop.

“You didn’t tell me I was chauffeuring a Dragon, Rusty! Those are the types of things a girl likes to know BEFORE she goes to a dance!”

“It couldn’t be helped. It’s not the type of thing one just goes blabbing about over open channels.” Rusty replied, slightly stung that she didn’t trust him not to look.

“Fair enough, but lets just say that you three are lucky your new friend is very wealthy. He wants to talk to you anyway. More specifically he “Bid me summon his new retainers to him’ which seems to be you lucky lot.” She quipped back with a wry grin. “I’ll can find a place for him to lay low for a while, but we’re going to have to get him across the border sooner rather than later if we want to collect on this. Speaking of which, do you two have what I asked you for? Or was this whole thing just to pick a dragon up from day-care?”

“We have the hard drive.” Jinan said, relinquishing the device. “You might as well know what’s on it. They were experimenting on metas in there, trying to strip them of their essence to rig them like drones!”

“We’ll just see if this is really what you say it is. Meanwhile you’d better go talk to your new boss before he decides to chew his way thru my crew.” With that Rusty left to follow Anita, who wanted to verify the hard drives authenticity, while Jinan and Greg approached the trailer with the dragon. They manage to open and enter without revealing to the rest of the shop the extraordinary contents of this rig.

“Hail!” the dragon welcomed them, speaking again thru the frightened but relieved sasquach. “I offer my thanks for liberating me from my bonds. You cannot imagine the suffering I endured at the hands of those mortals.” The last word is nearly spat with contempt by the interpreter, but its composure returns quickly. “And I congratulate you for entering my services for the time being, while you arrange for my escort across the border back to me country. You are no doubt gratified to know that the reward for accomplishing this will be appropriately handsome. To that end, I shall now allow you 15,000 nuyen each and more upon completion of your task.” The dragon himself seems the have regained some of his stature after the trials he endured, tho definitely not at his full splendor, holding himself with aloof regard for the two. Jinan, not wishing to offend what was undoubtedly a hungry dragon, bowed low in acquiescence. Greg is wide-eyed and star-struck.

“We graciously accept your offer, and will do all in our power to see you discreetly to your home. It truly is an honor to be in your service, tho in fact we did not venture in to the arcology to rescue you. We sought the hard drive of a scientist named Mayhew. We have been hired by a group of elves to extract him from his previous employ, but we found him dead and his data taken. That is what we tracked to Tyrell’s arcology and discovered their plot to strip metas of their essence. What more might we learn from you of this? Has your government any prior knowledge of Mayhew or his work, or of Tyrell’s intention?”

“Alas, no.” The dragon would have almost looked chagrined that he didn’t know, if a dragon could look chagrined. “I myself was investigating news that Tyrell was using its position as border guard of Seattle to capture mortals for their tests. That was when I…attempted to infiltrate their operation disguised as a captive, in an effort to learn more. I wasn’t prepared for what I found, and I intend to make them pay for what they did to me…or rather, to their fellow mortals.”

“And what of the A.W.E.? We learned that they were also looking into Tyrell for similar reasons. Would there be any particular cause for their aims to so closely mirror your own?” The dragon looked away.

“The policy of our government is never to endorse random acts of political dissidents, or associate with them directly.” He said coyly. “But it does not seem unusual for them to take interest in the mistreatment of mortals who flicker with magic.” Thinking it best not to press the dragon more, Jinan agreed to contact it again when arrangements had been made for its travel, and she and Greg bowed their ways out of the trailer. the group then reconvened to decide how best to proceed…

The Next Episizode, Biatch!

Week 2
Proceed stealthily downstairs to arcology B1

• B1 is long hall way with bedrooms on either side. Group of ghouls fighting cyberslaves down the hall. 2 more ghouls closer to us notice us and charge. They are killed
• Down the hall ghouls beat cybers and charge us. Blows are traded, but they die.
• Search rooms to find: thermal dampener rank 2, 3 BTL’s, 1oz. Deepweed, pair of shock gloves, ARES viper sliver gun, narcojet flechettes, handcuffs, 2 thermal grenades. Fight ghouls and cybers to get them.
• General atmosphere of Arcology is that workers are nervous and stressed, both by the cloistering and the nature of their research. Workers are resorting to drugs, keeping loaded weapons in their rooms, and missing shifts due to illness or fatigue.
• Use bedroom key and sneakily open door to room. Confronted by cyber troll. Shock gloves to face disables the devices in their implants, leaving them lobotomized. Find key to weapons range.
• Proceed stealthily down to B2. Security.
• Week 3
• Jinan uses thermal vision first and detects heat signatures in the hall around the corner, and more through a wall in a room to the left. She perceives astrally and sees the figures in the hall are ghouls, and in the room next there are cybers.
• Jinan has a strong sympathetic reaction with the cybers, as she sees that they have basically been hollowed out of there essence and replaced with the cybernetics that have usurped their wills.
• Ghouls get knocked out with neurostun. Some cybers get knocked out and one gets killed. The room with the cybers had big data storage devices.
• Jinan sneaks thru the North door and finds a scanner room filled with cybers. She quietly closes the door again
• Jinan detects thru the South wall a bunch of drones in the room with the security terminal. Jinan jams their signals one by one and Rusty hacks them one by one and takes over all the drones. Enter security office.
• Jinan searches gun cabinet. Finds remington shotgun and ammo.
• Rusty begins hacking the security node and turns off roaming IC
• Jinan edits camera footage to protect their identity
• Camera footage reveals other floors. Security cameras turned off
• Jinan detects ghouls in the other room and gets the drop on them. 1 is hit with a narcojet dart but doesn’t pass out. First encounter with Ghoul mages. 3 are killed, one is tranqued. Proceed to ID room
• Take turns trying to make IDs and with luck turn Bedroom key into Special Guest. Return to security
• Rusty baits the cybers in the scanner room with a roto drone. It flies and kites them into room with data storage towers
• Next room has ghouls in it and in the stairs. 1 is tanqued, 3 are killed. Proceed below to Weapons Testing
• First room has 4 ghoul mages. Jinan attempts to throw a CS gas grenade into the room and Rusty to lock the door on them, but 2 slip thru. Rusty crushes 1 with a door that Jinan dodges. The other 3 are knocked out by gas. After gas clears proceed.
• Weapons Control Room is full of cybers. Several are knocked out with shock gloves, the rest are shot.
• Acquire Weapon Scientist ID and Commlink, Shadowmerc ID and Commlink, extra shock gloves, Fichetti Security pistol, neurostun capsule clips. Weap. Sci. has info about the project to overcome the cyberslaves sense of self-preservation by not dodging bullets and rockets. Merc Comm showed he was leader of heavy team with Mayhew’s hard drive. They delivered but it didnt help. He tried to escape the ghouls but met his end here
• Record all current relevant data on datachip. Begin running upload of new data
• Use turrets on 3 groups of ghouls in this floor and next. 1 of Rusty’s Dobermans is lost in the kiting. All ghouls die on the turrets except 1 which Jinan crushes on the stairs while Rusty repairs and 2 more that stay below. These are engaged and dispatched.
• Jinan assenses great pain, sorrow, and injured pride from some powerful magical creature deep below. Proceed to Science Observation Lab
• Find Mayhew’s hard drive, learn the projects full nature, that they are trying to make riggable meta-humans, and they hope to do the same with their guest but haven’t yet. Have been trying for days to suppress the news of their failure to control the drones from their superiors.
• Rusty wants to take a cyberslave for “research” but Jinan wants to shut the machine down in hopes that some life will return to the slaves. Debate ensues and Rusty finally agrees to turn the control rig off. The cybers instantly fall asleep. Claim the Control Rig ourselves. Proceed down
• Try to get the drop on a group of Ghouls below, but they detect and charge Jinan on the stairs. They get split up by Rusty with the security doors and are dispatched, as are the two in the next hall, tho 1 of Rusty’s drones is badly damaged in the fray. Recalls and repairs while Jinan stealthily scouts the floor below.
• Lots of ghouls, a type which we haven’t seen before, a sasquatch, and a dragon! Regroups on B5 to plan.
• Jinan figures out that with the bodies of 2 awakened creatures they could lure the ghouls with bait, and with 10 capsule rounds they could cover the bodies with enough neurostun to knock them out. The bodies are acquired, the rounds are fired, the ghouls are retired.
• Rusty tries to hack the “special guest” terminal but is shut out. He then probes the target more carefully and gets in. Find and catalogue info about them experimenting on the dragon and the dragon resisting. Opens door to Sasquatch. Jinan approaches. The Dragon begins to speak thru the sasquatch saying it was captured on the border. Is more trusting of us for not killing all the mind slaves. Agrees to help us if we help it escape, and does the samsquanch.
• Rusty calls Anita and tells her we need transportation 10 minutes ago with room for something big. MAC truck big! Sit tight and await evac
• Week 5
• Truck is on its way. Rusty releases restraints on dragon. Cargo elevator door opens and predator drone appears.
• Closes on the group and fires a rocket. 2 of Rustys’ rotodrones are scrapped, the samsquanch takes serious injury and is knocked down, and Jinan rolls away from the blast only slightly singed. Rusty begins to hack while Jinan closes and draws its fire. When the Drone detects Rusty and boots him, Jinan is forced to drop it in a barrage of bullets.
• Greg approaches the scene. Summoning a watcher spirit to scout ahead he detects 3 gan members talking about breaking into a van nearby, easy score. His temper flaring he summons a fire spirit to waylay the interlopers, killing 2 and herding another to him for questioning. The member reveals his gang was tipped off to a van jacking equipment from this lab that would be a good turn-around score. Greg stuns the ganger and projects his astral self down into the basement towards the psychic emanation.
• Rusty decides to regroup his remaining drones in the ground floor garage while he brings the van around to the front of the building. Just then his Optic-X drone spots a black van pulling into view, as well as a scan revealing more than a score of active nodes. Rusty jumps the curb and drives across the concrete garden to a street connected to the front of the Arcology.
• Jinan is down in the absement with the wookie pushing the damaged drone towards the elevator knowing that Rusty can maybe salvage some use from it. Gregs astral form manifests right in front of her and she freaks out for a second. Greg questions her as to her business with the dragon, but Jinan brushes him off, saying she doesn’t have time to explain. She has to get the drone, the dragon and the wookie out of here before any welcoming committee arrives. Greg tells her its too late for that, as they are here already. Jinan tells him if he wants to help the dragon to go protect Rusty in the van. He speeds back up thru the ground to his body, summoning another fire spirit to guard Rusty as he races to the garage.
• Rusty careens off the curb onto the street, much to the surprise of some gangers moving in on it. They try to stop him, but he blasts past them. The ones that open fire on him are engulfed in flames by the fire spirit. The rest scatter. Rusty whips into position in front of the building
• Jinan, unable to wait for Rusty to hack the elevator, runs over to the terminal and begins entering passwords at random. The password turn out to be “password” and the elevator begins its descent. Jinan, the sasquatch, the drone and the dragon all begin riding it to the top. The drone is loaded into the back of the van just as Anita comes over Rusty’s Comm saying she’s driving the rig herself, and she’s coming in hot. However, the Optic-X picks up a Tyrell Response Team pulling up in the other van and approaching the building on foot. Jinan moves into cover, Greg tries to cover ground to the garage, Rusty beings hacking the van, which begins trying to kick him out, and Anita begins rounding the corner.

Episode 3
A faulty camera in our mind

The van lurched up to the curb a few blocks away from the Tyrell arcology. Rusty still hadn’t gotten used to handling the thing with the weight of his new toy, the shadowmerc doberman he pirated from our last B&E. At least some good had come from that near-fiasco, besides our new friend in the AWE and getting the lead to come here. I didn’t mind the extra fire support, especially when I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, like right now. All Anita had been able to tell us about our Johnson was that it was some mysterious group of elves, which in Seattle was at least 50% of the surrounding territory. Maybe the Salish-Shidhe was picking up our tab, or maybe we were breaking into a high-security research facility for a bunch of fashion models. Either way, a Runner never breaks onto extraterritorial turf lightly.

After he parked, Rusty couldn’t jump into his VR rig fast enough. He was jacking on to try and scope the building’s security, but the whole place was a ghost town for 6 square blocks so I didn’t see any danger in doing a little physical recon. I wished I could have gotten those sound suppressors in time for this op, but that hardly seemed like it would matter now. I climbed out of the van and Rusty’s roto-drone whirred to life and flanked me in, doubtless running on a defensive autopilot protocol. Cautiously I approached the front of the Arcology. What was that noise coming from inside? Could it be…chewing?

Stepping thru the double doors, I was greeted by the sight of a Ghoul devouring what remained of the receptionist, with 2 more hungrily scanning for another meal. Didn’t take their disease-ridden minds long to pick up on my awakened scent, and they came charging at me. I managed to drop one with my Predators, and the roto-drone finished the rest. Searching around the desk I found the remains of the receptionist, much of her torso and left leg were chewed off. The Ghouls had eaten her, but something else had killed her with a powerful blow to the head. Something had gone horribly wrong here, and if I was going to find Mayhew’s hard drive I was probably going to have to walk right thru the middle of it.

As much as I hate these hunks of plasteel and glass in my head, these cybereyes of mine pay for themselves every so often. I switched on my thermographic vision and scanned the next room, realizing caution might be the better part of valor. Sure enough there were two meta-human heat signatures, one of which was an three-meter-tall furnace that could only be a troll. Oddly tho, their heads didn’t register strong heat signatures for some reason. And even stranger, they hadn’t reacted to the gunfight that just occurred in the room next to them. All the more reason to tread lightly. But I wasn’t prepared for what I’d see beyond the door.

An orc and a troll stood together in the room. They were staring off into space with blank expressions and vacant eyes. Most of their hair had been shaved, and under their scalp snaked a web of wires tying into metal contact plates and punctuated by datajacks. Surgical scars marred their foreheads, and there were deep bags under their eyes. Errant bits of spittle would escape their mouths as their faces occasionally twitched and spasmed. They hadn’t yet noticed me, if in fact they could notice anything anymore, so I moved into position in one of the corners behind the big one. I’d forgotten about the drone again tho. I had to stop doing that. With no other command to act on it just trundled into the room after me, and I found out what happened when these guys noticed something. With a sparking sound their faces twisted into masks of rage and rancor. They turned on the drone with a violence that would have chilled a hot-headed Lonestar. They began raining blows down at the guileless little bot. Even when my audio enhancer picked up the sound of their hands breaking against the chassis they were unrelenting. It held its own, its defensive software telling it how to dodge some of the blows and it’s plating absorbing much of the damage. Then it’s switch flipped over to offensive mode, unloading a hail of bullets into the orc which slumped to the ground, his face falling back into a blank stare. I stepped from the shadows and unloaded into the troll. It didn’t seem to know it was being shot until it was dead, and it died trying to crush the life from my body.

“Damn this thing!” Rusty swore over the commlink. “Getting into this system is harder than finding out a JoyGirl’s real name.”

“I wouldn’t know.” I replied wryly. I shouldn’t be surprised that Rusty forgets I’m a woman. With all the time he spends amidst servos and autosofts I should be surprised if he realized that you can’t rig people. A chill ran down my spine as I thought that, looking down at the cybered troll lying at my own metal feet. I shook it off. “So what’s the problem? Can’t you get into the system? If nothing else I want to take my smiling face off the security footage.” I said, locking mechanical eyes with one of the building’s cameras, which had caught all the action thus far.

“Well, the bad news is that I can’t hack the security node til you get to the terminal. The good news is that the terminal is only a few floors below you.” Rusty’s voice was smooth and confident, but my augs detected the basal rumblings of frustrations masked by ego.

“Oh, just a few floors? Is that all? Why don’t you check the feed on your roto drone, Rust. I’ve only been in two rooms and its already getting weird.” Silence. Rusty was undoubtedly switching over to his drone to see what we had just encountered.

“You might have a point there. I’ll send some more drones for support. Whats the deal with all these cyber-zombie-meta’s anyway?” Rusty sounded completely unshaken by the sight of the slate-faced orc and troll, or their robotic behavior. Maybe it was just a result of his spending most of his time with drones that led to his trademark social grace, but there was a covetous tone in his voice I wasn’t sure I liked.

“Looks like we’re going to find out.”

I took a better look around the room I was in while I waited for Rusty to send in the extra drones. There were the bloody remnants of what looked like a Shadowmerc on the floor and a large view screen on the far wall. Kneeling by the merc I picked up his commlink. It was on, and the last message he’d received was still open. Apparently he’d been party of the heavy team that brought Mayhew’s hard drive from their HQ to the arcology. They were warned of an assault on the base by ghouls, and of the evac of the surrounding city blocks. They’d delivered the hard drive to the science lab, but said nothing more about what was on it or why they wanted it, or even where the science lab was. Unable to glean any more info, I turned my attention to the view screen.

As the tridscreen came to life it showed a gruesome scene. It showed camera footage from somewhere else in the arcology: a weapons testing range. There were nearly a dozen firearms of various assortments of heavy, from SMGs all the way up to flamethrowers and what looked like a rocket launcher. On the far end of the room was a disturbingly large pile of orc and troll corpses serving as a buffet for a big group of ghouls. The corpses were all seemingly fitted with similar cranial implants to the ones here. A sense of unease settled into my stomach. I heard Rusty’s new doberman pad into the room.

“Looks like they’re using these guys for target practice.” Rusty said. This time his voice was coming from the drone dog’s speakers. He must have jumped in. “Those look like some neat toys! Maybe we can get one.” I decided to presume he was talking about the guns.

“Yeah, maybe you’ll find something better to put on that vehicle mount than a directional mic.”

“No kidding.”

. . . . .

Once Rusty lent a little more drone gunnery support clearing the rest of the floor hadn’t proven too challenging. There were a few ghouls munching on a SINslave in a cubical-farm, but they were more than happy to streak towards my awakened ass as soon as they caught a whiff of me. Once we put the poor wretches out of their misery I searched the arcology worker and found his room key. Apparently this arcology was locked down pretty tight, even the interns were kept on the premises. Someone had been running a tight ship, or had tried anyway.

A few rooms over we came to another reception area, this one leading down. There were a few more of the modified trolls and orcs waiting for us, one even manged to batter thru my guard and caught me in the ribs. Their strength was terrifying, but they were still had a weakness of bullets, and we put them down. I patched myself up while Rusty hacked the terminal’s node. Seemed that Tyrell had been trying to install control rigs in meta-humans after all! They had been trying to override the last of their “subjects” essence in order to maintain better control, mentioning a “Special Guest” they seemed to think would help them to this end. Apparently things didn’t go as they planned. The ghouls broke into the arcology and the scientists were actually looking forward to throwing their helpless, brain-jacked cyberslaves into the fray with them. But the sick bastards got a little of what was coming to them when the slaves stopped responding to their commands and started killing anything they saw. But the best news was that the higher-ups here seemed desperate to keep their superiors in Tyrell from knowing about the screw-up. That tasty little tidbit was bound to cost somebody a lot of Nuyen, and we stood to profit quite a bit from it if we talked to the right people!

A view screen on the wall painted an even darker picture for us. It showed an obstacle course with razor wire, pools of acid, and a huge flat platform that was roped off like a boxing ring. Along the far wall the camera showed a huge one-way window. Clearly it held some kind of observation room where the scientists could stand and judge their handiwork. I had a brief flashback to the medical technicians hawkishly monitoring my recovery after my own cybernetic modification, and especially the military overseer with unmasked disdain. My fists clenched. Keep moving.

There was a stairwell leading down, and we’d gotten the key to it from the body of the receptionist in this room, but our eyes were drawn to a large door on the opposite wall.

“Should we take a look?’

“A look couldn’t hurt.”

Our look into the next room revealed a cavernous loading dock. Yellow caution ARO’s warned people on the floor to stay away from the giant elevator platform which dominated the floor of the room. All along the floor, walls, and ceiling there were huge gouges in the permacrete, and sprawling blackened scorch marks. The lights on the elevator control panel flashed on and off.

“Let’s take the stairs!”

- – Acquired: Arcology keys (Reception, B1 stairs, Bedroom), Arcology IDs: Doorman. – -

- – “Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines in a place where we only say goodbye
it stung like a violent wind that our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds.” Ben Gibbard – -


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