The Plastic Jungle

National bug day: bloodworms and freaking giant wasps

We paid Saïd the cabbie then crawled across the bridge. We keep an eye on the Wushin’s stealth RFID that Jeeves planted on one of the Suits. Straight ahead is a road going to the hills. We pass an old statue representing the old Dubai. The RFID is currentyly located beyond the airport, in an area with a lot of hotels. It’s 10:30pm. Said’s car is wrecked, but he’ll be able to get his backup vehicle in an hour.

Jeeves is about to pass out, we need to get out of here. Saïd offers to hole up in a hotel named “Tulip Creek.” We hear sirens approaching and decide to jaunt real fast. Said has to leave, but he tells us how to get to Tulip Creek and ask for Abdul Moui, who owes us a favor. We climb down the bridge to reach the street level. The Tulip Creek is another Marriott hotel.

We try to blend-in with the local crowd. As we are only half a block from the hotel, a Dubai cop car spots us and approaches. The Jazz in me wants to pull my Assault Rifle and pepper the pigs, but I decide to let Echo’s silver tongue do its work. She decides to make a run for it, as we are near a corner that will get us momentarily off the cop’s sight. We then zigzag between building, hug the wall as the car zips by… Ruin turns Echo invisible. The police car keeps scanning and patrolling the area, we have to evade its vigilance several time on the way to the Hotel.

Ruin spots cameras in the hotel, and a watcher spirit. Jeeves spots two cop drones. We avoid their search pattern. Echo scans newsfeed on the matrix, and sees there is already a video of the whole Dragon incident, including a very good footage of Jeeves shooting SandalGrass multiple times… We reach the hotel lobby. The young clerk gets us Abdul’s number. After a quick talk, we go upstairs to meet him, room 352. The hotel is mid-range, nothing fancy. There are cameras in the corridor. Abdul opens the door, looks around, asks about Saïd then lets us in. He’s Ok to stay in his small hotel room for a few hours. Ruin changes Jeeve’s appearance again, he now looks like a very convincing African man.

Ruins goes to get some food to please Saïd, who’s a little miffed by our extended stay. I feel miserable during the Jazz’s crash. I keep my mind off my misery by doing weapons maintenance (including Echo’s gun, mine actually. The girl does doesn’t have any clue about that kind of stuff, I wonder hoe she’s survived so far…). Säid shows up after an hour, he has his spare car. The RFID signal is still there.

Echo does some research about Bloodworms. They can be located in the UAE peninsula. They live in clusters, have a deadly poisonous bite. Lung said we needed these eggs for Echo’s technomancer training. We call Mossal, our new young local fixer, too look for these things: truth serum (for the Wushin folks), bloodworm eggs for Echo, Lace drug (memory wipe drug), and magical reagents for Ruin. Echo calls the boy. Boy takes 25% finder’s fee, Dubai’s prices are x2

* Gamma Scopolin (truth serum): 1500 for 3 doses : 24h
* Lace drug: 1875 for 1 doses: 4 days.
* Reagents: available everywhere.
* Bloodworm eggs: he gets us the name of a Troll harvester: Dante, near Algazira-al-amra.

Bloodworms are 4-6 feet long…

Saïd takes us to the Stuffer Shack to buy reagents, then to our hotel so we can recover our stuff. Ruin disguises me as John Wayne, I sneak in, sneak out with the stuff and Saïd takes us to the Marriot where the Wushin are staying. On the bridge, the Police has a roadblock. Saïd says his car is stolen, and offers to drop us to avoid trouble. We walk across the bridge on a pedestrian/bike trail and pass the roadbloack without trouble. We then hail a taxi to reach the hotel.

As we check in, Ruin notices Wushin security guys having a coffee in the lobby. Ruin tries to get us a room on the 5th floor, where the Wushin execs are staying. Jeeves sits next to the Wushin sec guys, and listens on the conversation. They talk about what happened at the Chi lodge. We learn that the meet at the club was just a negotiation one, with the actual exchange happening later. They are mostly bragging, typical dude talk. They talk about going to the World next night, to do another meet with a triad, about the coin. They don’t know who exactly the meet will be, now that Grassandal is dead…

We get to our room on the 5th floor, do some research about the World. It’s an artificial archipelago off Dubai’s shore. Tomorrow night there will be a party on the UK island. We discuss our options, when a Chinese coin drops in the middle of the room. Suddenly, there is a magical mist/cloud in the room that Ruin can see in the Astral plan. The coin is a fake, we’re pretty sure that’s the same coin which was on Grassandal’s body and that we had given to Lung. He had thrown it into the river during our meet, and now here it is! We recollect the coin’s story that Battleax had told us. There are four coins, Lung’s looking for the 1st and 4th coin, named Lu (Wealth) and Fu (Happiness). We are also not the only people he asked to look for the coins. All the coins looks exactly the same, it’s hard to tell them appart unless you have them all.

Ruin calls Battleax, who teaches us some info: the coins bind with people after assessing if they are worthy. The coin chooses its owner, it can’t be forced. Under that theory, the coin we have could be real, just not the one Lung wanted, or it rejected him.

We go to sleep, except Ruin who spends the night trying to bind a spirit. The spirit resists and Ruin decides to get a couple hours of sleep. Echo gets some healing in the morning. Battleax refers us to a man called Foual, who has hunted blood worms before. Ruin calls Foual, a young kid. Foual knows where we could find BloodWorm eggs. He wants us to call him after dark. We also call Dante who offers to either get the eggs for us (would cost 5k and two weeks: no go) or give us the location, a smoke grenade and some tips. We agree to that deal and to meet him in Algazira. We rent an ATV to go there, a very nice vehicle. I prepare a cooler with food and drinks for the road, we also jury-rig a harness to transport the fragile Bloodworm eggs. I take the first shift of the drive.

We reach Algazira, a quaint village (about the size of Oregon city back home). We see some militia (part of the Omanese army) there. We find the local “watering hole” and park there. Ruin rests a bit then binds AAA, his spirit of man. We walk into the tavern, there are only 4 customers, including Dante, who looks frazzled and hungover. It’s Dante. We have a drink with him then go to the South-West for an hour, to the caves where the bloodworms live. We wait for nightfall, he gives us smoke grenades, which can quiet them. He also warns us that this place is the turf of the Omani army. He then leaves us in the middle of the desert. There are caves nearby and a nomad camp. We find a resting spot and wait for the night. Ruin fails to invoke a spirit again. He asks us if he can rest for an hour and try again. Ruin feels the Chi is wrong in this place, and that we’ll have to sneak in the case.

Jeeves and I get in, using mostly low-light thanks to several holes in the cave’s ceiling. We finally get to a slimy cave, and get in carefully. We find several worms (4’ long), step over them. In a small room we have to climb over a pile of them (what are they doing?). We finally reach a larger cave with clusters of eggs. I pop a smoke grenade, then wait for the room to fill. We sneak among worms to reach the eggs. Jeeve starts pulling the eggs with his knife, me with my crowbar/chisel. We get the eggs, then suddenly Jeeves freaks out and starts running toward the exit! The fool is about to step on a carpet of deadly poisonous monsters! I put the eggs on the ground, then throw my other smoke grenade ahead of Jeeves, to calm down the worms ahead of him. Three worms spring at him, but he manages to dodge their attacks. He then disappears from my sight. I hear his breath in the commlink for a few seconds, then hear voices from the others. Jeeves made it out, and his two eggs are intact! I take my time to leave the cave, climbing along the walls when it is unsafe to walk on the ground, etc. We gather outside. Jeeves explains that he suffers from claustrophobia. WTF? He is very apologetic about this, but a bit forewarning would have been great. He is pretty much catatonic as we drive off. We make it toward general Hassan to deliver the eggs. We stop for the night in Massafi, a village in the middle of Oman. Before we arrive next morning, Echo makes a call to General Hassan. He tells us to go to Narwa compound. He tells us to rid the building of the bugs there. It seems the place is infested by giant bees, which Ruin believes are toxic spirits. Ruin summons a spirit of earth.

We drive closer to Narwa, then we have to finish hiking (it’s a mountain area). We approach the area on foot, reach stairs carved in the stone wall, then reach a padlocked gate. Jeeves has some industrial lubricant (!) he uses to lube the gate before opening it. It opens silently. We get in the kcompound. First we get in some kind of very large mess hall, empty of all life. Ruin projects his astral body in the other buildings of the compound and finds a giant wasp nest in one of the two floor buildings. We decide to try and burn the bugs. We see a pickup truck and trash dumpster that could include combustible materials. As soon as Ruin opens the bargage dumpster’s lid, a black wasp, as large as a crow, flies out of the container and flies around us. Jeeves tries to shoot the bug with his gun but misses. I open the lid to toss a frag grenade and three more bugs escape before the thing goes boom and kills most bugs inside. Echo and Jeeve attack with their guns, Ruin with his mana bolt. We hear buzzing all around us. A bunch of bugs escape from the dumpster and are intercepted by Ruin’s toxic wave. We decide to take cover. Jeeve and I shoot a couple wasps coming out of the 2-floor building that we had spotted earlier. Echo retreats to the mess hall. I join her while shooting at the bugs. Ruin was as fast as he can to reach us.

We figure out that the wasps have built an underground hive as large as the whole compound. A queen is hidden deep in these tunnels. Ruin uses BBQ and toxic waves to clean the underground network. Echo builds a fire bomb with the pickup truck. Jeeves and I are shooting the beasties to let other people work. We work together and eventually wipe the hive by smoking it out. After that we realize that the place has some weird high technology with almost no noise. The place even has its own host, which thrills Echo. Genearl Narwa finally arrives and is very happy to see we cleared the place and gives us 5000 nuyens. He also provides a mentor (one of his militiamen) for Echo.

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Well, that was weird...

Finishing off the thieving geisha didn’t feel anywhere as good to Zig-Zag as he had been hoping for. I guess he was hoping she’d be begging for her life, or trying to strike a bargain to keep her head. Instead she was unconscious the whole time (courtesy of a couple bullets), then that dragon Lung decided he wanted her and the coin. He got her all right, but not in working condition…

According to Lung, the coin is a fake. That got ZZ very confused, what the frell was she doing with a coin, when we all thought she was going to trade it with someone at the Chi lounge. Even better, the coin is supposedly now in Hong-Kong, in the hands of some Triad. The dragon wants us to get the coin for him (if he’s that powerful, what can’t he get it himself?). The group stroke a bargain with Lung, but now we have to run more errands to get those rewards. That’s Ok, it’s most likely worth it, and we get to live another day instead of being eaten by an ancient mythological creature today… Not like Odin. ZZ’s bummed that all this got Odin killed, but there he still feels a strange relief as to not owing the fixer anything anymore. Short respite, now a much bigger debt is owed to Lung, someone you can’t say no to…

Off to Hong-Kong now, but the trip is going to be an adventure in itself.

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The Chi Lounge

It was all about wanting to get revenge. Pathetic, really, but it still is the motivation.
-Julian Clary

I have my revenge, or at least the start of it. The woman directly responsible for my darling Flit’s death is gone….but not the one who was pulling her strings. I guess I should feel something, triumph, relief, ecstasy….but I just feel tired.

It’s time to soldier on. Stiff upper lip and all that. I need to unravel the mystery of this Coin of Luck. Only then will my vengeance be complete. I only hope it doesn’t lead directly back to Lung, but if it does that will be a fight to inspire tales.

Perhaps the next step will be interrogating the Wuxing suits. They may have valuable information about the wizard behind the curtain.

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One star review: Chi@ the Lodge ★☆☆☆☆
From Echo's perspective

Come not between the dragon, and his wrath. -WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, King Lear

It was slow-going at the Chi. None of us had spotted our thief, so we sat at the bar and ordered drinks while having a casual glance around the bar. Fifty nuyen for a glass of wine! This place is for posers.

Ruin could see watcher spirits all over the club. There were many spirits and each of the servers had a spirit escorting them. We spotted a 9×9 agent and Jeeves attempted to plant a stealth tag on him. The dude was hostile and offended, so I’m guessing the plant failed. Zig Zag then tried to palm a tag on him and succeeded. Aren’t they from Hong Kong, the 9×9?

I checked into our private meeting room. A server was waiting there for me and asked if she could get anything for me. “Aspirin, please. I have a headache.” I figured that would take at least two minutes, enough time for me to explore the host. I entered the Chi host and found the log of reservations for the private rooms. It’s unlikely anyone would use their real names, but they usually stick to the flavor of their identity or culture. And Bingo. The guests for room 5 had signed in with Asian names.

Ruin called Talon, an information broker. He asked for info on the person buying the Coin of Luck. Talon said he would call him back.

On the way to the ladies room I noticed a man dressed very similarly to the assholes who were bullying the slaves at the sweatshop behind Cathode Glow. Ruin sees three Wuxing corp suits and follows them. Sure are a lot of Asians here in Dubai.
Then Zig Zag spotted the Grass Sandal. Zig followed her and I moved parallel in her direction. She removed her jacket and she was wearing a bright red shirt. Just like the guy I saw near the ladies room, and like the guy at the sweatshop. Are these Red Dragons? Aren’t they from Hong Kong, too?

Zig takes her pic and shares it with us. Not a great pic, but Ruin shows it to his spirit. Jeeves slapped a stealth RFID on one of the three Wuxing suits. The Grass Sandal kept adjusting her appearance. Long hair then short hair. Then red pants. A dude, probably triad, tries to slap Zig Zag. A graze and a miss, but still rude. Z jumps parkour-style over a barrier from the 2nd to 1st floor in pursuit of our thief.

A fireball hit the front center dance floor. Jeeves was burnt and two patrons were on fire. I was at a safe distance, or so I thought. Then zap, a Resonance spike hits me. Ruin summons Free Tea, his Spirit of Air. Jeeves and Zig continue to pursue the swiftly moving Grass Sandal.

Ruin cast Euphoria on our target. Free Tea slowed her down. Zig hit her with his shock glove. Another fireball. Several patrons were on fire now, and the crowd is in full stampede mode out to the front entrance. A 2nd Resonance spike hits me.

Jeeves could have shot the fireball archer that nearly killed him, but he was hell-bent on revenge and shot the Grass Sandal. She dropped. I wouldn’t have minded if she had been trampled a bit by the mob, but Zig Zag got her off the floor right away. By some miracle, I landed the killing shot on the fireball archer.

When we were outside the club, Jeeves tied her up while Zig went to retrieve his rifle from a trashcan. I called our price-gouger of a cabbie. He answered the phone, “200 nuyen.” “Get here in three minutes.”

Inside the cab, we checked her pulse. None, but the medkit detected a weak pulse. Probably some triad magician was able to mask her vitals. Maybe they made it harder for the spirits to find her and the Coin of Luck, too. These people are pros.

Cops in three Lamborghinis pursued us. “500 nuyen.” Man, this taxi guy knew exactly how much to ask for. I was able to locate the RFID we planted on the Wuxing.

Ruin used a spell to tear a lamppost out of the ground and knocked it into the street. This blocked the three cops behind us. We were on bridge heading in the direction of the Wuxing and more importantly, away from downtown Dubai. The cops behind us were stopped, but there were more ahead of us.

Then a huge Asian dragon lands in front of us and destroys the bridge. It was none other than the great dragon Lung. It is rumored that he is the leader of several Triads, most notably the Red Dragon Triad. He demanded we give him the girl and the coin.

Ruin and I discussed how we were going to negotiate with this dragon. Zig Zag was fidgeting while Jeeves respectfully asked to have a word with the great wyrm.

Jeeves exited the limo. Showing great reverence, he asked for the fatherly right to exact revenge on the person responsible for his daughter’s death. Wait, what? Jeeves is Flit’s dad? That tricky pixie.

Lung seemed to think this is a reasonable request and allowed it. Zig Zag tosses the body out of the car. As her body rolled over the pavement, I noticed her throat seemed a bit misshapen. Zig Zag had a wry smile on his face. I doubt Jeeves noticed as he blasted several bullets into the Grass Sandal’s skull.

We gave the coin to Lung who then tossed it away. “A fake!” Are we ever going to catch a break here? Lung tells us we must bring him the Coin of Luck. What are we going to say, “No?” Of course not. Can you guess where we have to go? Yep, that right. Hong Kong.

What’s that idiom? Never deal with a dragon. Well, it’s not like we had a choice. I’m wondering if Lung first hired Odin to retrieve the coin. Because he tossed us Odin’s head, still sticky with wet blood. Inside Odin’s mouth was four credsticks, each with 6K¥, the cash Odin promised us.

Zig Zag wisely kept his mouth shut while we were able to make a deal. 7K¥ each, trainers for Ruin, Jeeves and me and some cyberware for Zig Zag. Lung told us to go to Jamiroquoi to get this deltaware. Some an evil facility in Iraq. Lung gave us connections in Hong Kong for arcane and technomancer trainers.

We paid the cabbie 1K¥, more than we promised, but much less than the damage his limo would cost. That was satisfying. The heat on us is crazy. The price to leave Dubai by plane would be astronomical. The easiest way out from here is Tehran, the graveyard of Persia. That’s over 2000 km away, and we’re starting on foot. I hate it here.

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It's too damn hot here...
Dubai, outside of the Chi lounge.

I already miss Seattle’s weather, the tingle of the acid rain on my skin, the cool wind from the Ocean. Here, it’s scolding hot and still air to boot. Fortunately, all the buildings have AC but as soon as you head out, it’s a like a solid curtain of hot air. The robes we are wearing are Ok for airflow, and the white reflects a good part of the sun’s rays instead of absorbing it like my leathers would (I’d be chaffing really bad if I still wore those, but right now I just have my chameleon suit under the local garb). Nice touch, these armored robes actually have large hidden opening slots so you can shoot without punching holes through ’em :).

With the heat it’s hard to keep my mind on the game. We arrived at the Chi lounge a little while ago. Echo and I came in as the VIP’s who rented one of the secure rooms (well, she’s the VIP, I’m the bodyguard). I hid my Assault Rifle in a garbage bin outside (strategically located between the Lounge and the hotel). We’re keeping an eye for “Sandal” but haven’t found her yet. Ruin’s spirit hasn’t been able to locate here either… I hope it’s not another red herring she’s sent us on. For each of them, I’m cutting an additional limb when we find her. First one’s for Flit, and it’s gonna hurt a bit!

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Dubious Dubai Day-Tripping
Bam-Bam and Jeeves ruminate on the last run!

Bam-Bam’s recollections on Jackpoint:

Oh, drek! That run sure didn’t go according to plan. I thought we had a pretty solid plan going in. Distract the guards, get the sweat-shop workers out, and then blow the place. Zig-zag attempted to create a distraction by climbing up on the roof and chucking a smoke grenade down the vent….why anybody would use smoke instead of a nice explosive grenade is beyond me, but hey…to each their own.

I started to place the explosives on the outside of the building while Echo was doing her decking stuff and Ruin was running around like a crazed old man. At least the racist bastard made me invisible was slinging dwarvish slurs my way.

I’m not real clear on what happened. All I know is all a sudden a bunch of dudes with guns and drones with automatic weapons showed up and started attacking Ziggy on the roof. He handled himself pretty well, but after I got the last bomb placed I helped him down a couple of guys. Right around then Ruin showed up. He was giggling maniacally with a little drool running down his chin (scout’s honor!) as he mana bolted the shit outta some guys.

Well. I figured it was time to get out of there. Headed to the van. While trying to get my blood thirsty employees to get in the van so we could leave, some drek head started messing with my little darlings. The bastard killed at least one of my girls before I was able to switch to an auto count down.

Zig-zag was saying something about his sword while running into walls. Not sure what that was all about, but I eventually was able to get everybody into the van and we took off. Only then, did I realize that my buddy Casey hadn’t got in the damn van? I guess he wandered off on his own, the lunkhead. I swear with friends like these, who needs enemies huh? Well, we got turned around and picked him up and while driving away my babies did their job. While not my best work of art, riding the shockwave as we drove away was a blast. I dropped my compatriots off at the lat Flit’s apartment and went to get my payday! Well, that’s another whole story.

From the Journal of Peter Green Wodehouse:

I made it to Seattle today. I was just supervising the unloading of the last of the equipment from the MSC Cordoba when I was alerted to death of my precious Flit via a deadman’s switch. I was unable to protect her, just as I couldn’t protect her dear mother. Well, when protection has failed…the only thing left is revenge. I will gain revenge on whom ever or what ever was responsible for her death.

I made hast to Flit’s apartment. Thankfully Flit sent me a copy of her access codes. I was just finishing investigating her apartment when I heard somebody outside the front door. I drew my sidearm. The door opened and in walked Flit’s associates. I recognized the woman. She was the one to whom Flit left the apartment…Echo is her name. It appeared that their work had not gone well. The old mage was with Echo and they were carrying the elf swordsman.
I made them comfortable while trying to decide what to do. Discretion is the better part of valour, and I decided the best course would be to follow them in hopes that I can find out what really happened to Miss Flit.
The group indicated a need to travel to Dubai in search of a geisha of I had traveled there once before with Miss Flit’s family and I offered my services as a guide. Miss Echo contacted a gentleman named Massad about transport to Dubai. I gathered the geisha played no small part in Flit’s demise. I eagerly look forward to discussing the matter with her.

Master Massad arranged for a flight to Dubai. We arrived early in the evening. The first thing we did was to acquire local clothing. It is always best to blend in when possible. We arranged lodging at the Majestic Hotel and then made our way to the Chi at the Lodge to set a trap for the geisha.

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Manservant or Man at Arms?
Echo's ruminations

I have a butler. He was Flit’s butler. His name is Carson, and he’s attentive and focused on me. It’s like having a stalker who does chores and runs errands.

I think Carson is joining us so he can get answers and exact revenge over Flit’s death. He came with us to Dubai. This is my first time here and I hate it. The locals were staring daggers at me, as part of my neck and hair were exposed. You’d think I was doing yoga naked on the sidewalk.

We’ve spent half our time here looking for a jalabeya (a traditional long-sleeved full-length dress) and a shayla (a black scarf to drape over my head). What a hassle. I have to say, it’s roomy and easy to hide stuff underneath it all.

Currently we are at the Chi at the Lodge Nightclub looking for our thief/geisha impostor. Ruin has his spirits searching for her. Security here at the night club is tight. It’s going to take a few clever moves to pull this off. Our mission is to get the Coin of Luck. What we really want is to capture the woman and others complicit in Flit’s death.

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Shattering Illusions
Ruin's Relief

Ruin giggled and rubbed his hands together. Hong Kong was a red herring. We’re not going there after all. What looked like diabolic omens a few hours ago turned out to be an illusion. The demon wasn’t still playing with us from another dimension. Instead we fell for the lies of a cute girl.

As an illusionist I should know better than to fall for illusions myself. That geisha really played us. Even with my analyze truth spell over her I couldn’t see through the web of lies she spun. Next time I’m interrogating someone I’m going to take it slower and be more thorough. Looks like I’ll have a chance to practice in a few minutes when we question the leadership of the sweat shop.

Though I know Cantonese and my parents are from there, I wasn’t looking forward to Hong Kong really. It was going to be all business, no pleasure. And it would’ve been like searching for a needle in a haystack finding someone there. At least in Dubai we have a destination.

No Oongapei in Battleax’s future. Instead I’ll be buying her some nice duty free top shelf liquor in Dubai. Maybe some Grey Goose or Maker’s Mark. And definitely will have to pour some out in honor of Flit, one of the finest runners I’ve had the pleasure to work with. RIP

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Zig-Zag's angry

As we listen to the warehouse audio feed and learn how we were fooled on the pier, Zig-Zag’s blood boils. Contrarily to common beliefs in the community, he is not typically prone to anger, but right now his mourning is turning into rage. He’s angry at being played, angry at losing Flit (she was OUR psycho bitch) after letting the fake decoy go.

Flit may be alive if we had not been fooled by the Geisha: ZZ believes that the latter is erasing all traces of her involvement with the Cathode Glow, which involves getting rid of Casey. Another option is that someone else wants the Lucky Coin real bad, but that’s less likely (if they want to find the bitch like we do, they’are doing it wrong by blowing up Casey’s neighborhood). Nope, ZZ’s convinced that Flit’s death’s on the Geisha, and he wants his pound of flesh… Or maybe 20 pounds.

There is hell to pay, and the asswipes in charge of the warehouse will be the first to feel ZZ’s wrath. He’ll squeeze every bit of information from them to know everything there is to know about their boss. Then we’ll blow the warehouse to smithereens. Who’s gonna be left in the building when that happens depends on the slavers’ level of cooperation…

Next we’ll go to Dubai. Not sure if we’ll use Djinn’s favor or a commercial flight, but we’ll have to go with the fastest route no to miss the rendez-vous. ZZ Can’t wait to meet her again…

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The run went bad, tragically bad.
From Echo's perspective

I guess Flit was feeling guilty for shooting the young woman’s leg. Flit offered her 5K nuyen for a new knee. Zig Zag offered to pay half. Not sure why. Maybe he felt complicit in her injury, or maybe he just likes to play the hero.

Ruin is always thinking of money. Maybe that’s why he has so much. He suggested we take the Cessna. I told them I couldn’t change the ownership of it, certainly not quickly. Flit offered to start up her jammer, and Zig Zag drove it across the water to Thule’s safehouse. We tried to call Bogart, but he did not pick up my call. Flit tried to call him, too, with the same result.

Bam Bam called Zig Zag asking for help with a job blasting the warehouse behind Cathode Glow. Now that’s an odd coincidence. It’s the same place our decoy’s kimono is from. The persona offering the job was a cloaked figure Bam Bam met on the shadownet. Allegedly, there’s a sweatshop behind the Cathode Glow. Do they make kimonos, perhaps? Bam Bam didn’t believe it, as Casey, the dude who runs the Cathode Glow, is a decent guy who wouldn’t run a sweatshop.

Investigating the cloaked figure, I found some suspiciously radiant reviews on yelp. Digging deeper, I was able to trace the cloaked figure to his current location in Glow City. It was right about then that Zig Zag received a text from Bam Bam, “NOW!! TROUBLE.” Bam Bam was at the apartment complex where Casey lived, in Glow City. Hmm. There were bombs in four of the buildings, and Bam Bam was busy disarming them. He needed help getting Casey out before the whole place blew.

We hustled and headed out to Glow City to help him. Zig gave Ruin and me ride. Flit took her bike. Unfortunately, there was a traffic accident slowing us down. Cars funneled to a single lane to get past the mangled vehicles. The Knight Errant was using this as an opportunity to stop each car and inspect the occupants. I was prepared to fast-talk our way smoothly through the traffic stop.

Zig Zag had other ideas. He peeled out, driving along the shoulder and zoomed ahead. Two motorcycle cops pursued him. Flit came to our rescue by hurling a perfectly timed grenade. It landed under Zig Zag’s car, but did not explode until the pursuing cops drove over it. Never a boring moment with this crew.

Zig Zag called Bam Bam en route. B-squared told us what building he was in, which one he thought Casey was in, and where the bombs were. He had disarmed one and moved to find the next one. Bad guys were already one the scene. I was still trying to figure out the bigger picture, how this all fit together.

Flit sped ahead and arrived at the complex a few seconds before us. Patience is not her thing. She didn’t even slow down when she got close to the building. She just leapt from her moving bike and landed on her feet, ready to fight.

While Zig was driving up, Ruin conjured Downward Draft Dodger, an air spirit. It could provide backup for Flit until we got there. We were close enough to see an arrow descend on her. Not a normal arrow—an alchemy arrow that burst into a fireball. Sometime around then Ruin conjured (or summoned?) a fire spirit, BBQ. I’ll learn the names of the regulars eventually.

I went into Hot-Sim to get a closer look at this apartment complex. I was hoping there were cameras I could see through. If I was lucky, there would be a fire alarm system I could trigger. This is a shit neighborhood. Any fire alarm or fire suppression system probably stopped functioning decades ago. Still, it was something to look for.

Flit was down from the fireball only briefly. Her auto-injector had her back up on her feet. Ruin used some kind of mind control to get one of the thugs to shoot the other. I was blind and deaf here, so I only know what was going on by what they chose to share wirelessly. My attention was drawn away by a data spike. Someone attacked me. They were running silent, but I detected a resonance signature.

I could hear the activities in meatspace. It’s like listening to a baseball game on the radio. Zig pulled the car up to the apartment complex. Another fireball dissipated Ruin’s air spirit. And his fire spirit. You’d think the fire spirit would have some resistance, right?

After several attempts, I was able to find the technomancer attacking me. It was a cloaked figure, not unlike the one who hired Bam to destroy the Cathode Glow warehouse. What are the odds?

Zig Zag used a grenade launcher to take out an archer standing on the carport roof. The frag grenade tore through the guy and left a ragged hole in the in the roof. Someone shot an arrow on the Ford Americar disabling the engine.

The technomancer attacking me suddenly jacked out. That was somewhat surprising, as I had not dealt any damage to the trickster. Then I realized why the dude jacked out. The TM was onsite and wanted to wake up to move out before the place blew.

ZZ told me to get out of the car. I already knew the engine was disabled. I switched from VR to AR only to realize I was in a car that was leaking fuel. I ran out and used a nearby building for cover. Zig Zag was shooting at a guy on the 2nd floor of a stairwell.

Bam Bam told us the place was about to go up. Flit leapt up to the 2nd floor through the hole Zig had blown open. The corner of Casey’s apartment was also destroyed by Zig’s launcher. Flit entered Casey’s apartment and found him lying on the floor, unconscious from knockout gas. She ran in and grabbed Casey.

Knowing the whole place was about to go up, Ruin and I ran for safety. Two of the buildings exploded. Flit used her body to shield Casey. She chose to take the damage in his place, dying to save his life. Seriously, there’s no spin there. That’s exactly how it happened.

The explosion caused one of the buildings to collapse on Zig Zag, nearly killing him. I was injured but nothing serious in comparison. The place was obscured by smoke and dust. We collected Casey’s unconscious body. We did a quick heal on Zig and Casey, then we split in Bam Bam’s van. We rode in silence for a while. We were all thinking of Flit, but no one was ready to talk about it.

We went to the Cathode Glow in Tacoma. Casey let us in the front door. He explained about how he rented out the back warehouse. The money was good enough that he did not ask questions.

Ruin did an astral perception and was able to see about 30 figures on the 2nd floor. Sweatshop workers, maybe? No astral signatures.

I hacked the building’s host and went into the security camera logs. Many hours earlier, a Phoenix Thunderbird drove up. Out came the two guys we killed at the Cessna. Also, the young Asian woman we saw at the Cessna. It turns out, she was no decoy. That was our culprit.

Not only did we let the thief go, Zig Zag and Flit gave 5K nuyen before we freed her. I have to hand it to the girl—she is a fine actor. She had duped us all.

She was a great actor, but not necessarily a smart one. The stupid woman bragged about her plans: stealing the Coin of Luck from Djinn Massad and then selling it to a competitor. The exchange was scheduled for tomorrow night at the Che Lounge in Dubai.

Change of plans. Cancel Hong Kong. We’re going to the Persian Gulf. A good place to do all sorts of business. It’ll be a long flight to get there. Too much free time to think about Flit.

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