The Plastic Jungle

Twas just a delivery job they said...

Right after the Sheik’s incident, Fleet and I exit the club. Fleet tries to track the “geisha” but can’t find anything relevant (there’s too many people here for that). I run ahead through the crowd but cannot find her either (if it’s really a woman…). That’s a dead end, he/she’s gone for good and we don’t even know what he/she looks like.

Echo and Ruin try to approach Massad, but they are rebuked by the Orc bodyguards. One of the orcs throws however a cheap commlink at Echo and tells her to wait for a call. Ruin tries to use his astral sense to find the assassin, but comes back empty handed and quite freaked out: he saw the spirit that had been stalking him for a while (looks like a nasty gorilla he says). He then sends two of his spirits to search for the geisha, to no avail. The exiting crowd is being funnelled by the police. We are scanned by drones, only Echo’s SIN is triggering an alarm. She is taken out of the crowd, a detective talks with her. I don’t know what they say, but he finds her gun, confiscates it and gives her a business card with a smile. Pig…

Ruin feels a gun stabbed in his back: it belongs to one of the Vori captains we already met before, telling him he should have come to the meet with the Terminator… Ruin yells “gun” and gets away from the gun. The Vori switches gear, trying to avoid attention from the Law, and tells he has a job for us, and that we should call him. As he moves away from us with his bodyguards, I tell him that first he should remove the bounty on our heads, then we’ll talk. He agrees, but I don’t believe one word coming out of his mouth.

We gather at my car while the spirits keep searching. Echo starts doing some Matrix research about Massad, but does not find anything of interest at first. The Commlink that was given to us can only receive calls, so we “just” have to wait. We however pickup the kimono that the fake Geisha dropped when escaping, with the name of a place named “Cathode Glow” on a label. The kimono is nice quality and the wig is tailored made. The Cathode glow: it is a tech shop in Echo’s part of town. We go to Echo’s apartment to rest. She searches the Matrix for information about Massad. We turn off the loaned commlink’s wireless mode. The phone suddenly rings: it’s the orc bodyguard, who wants to see us. We learn that the item Massad had was indeed stolen by the Geisha. He wants us to meet him at the Seattle Hilton hotel. We decide to do that after some rest.

At 5:30 am, after only a couple hours of sleep, Echo’s apartment alarm rings. Some of us wake us instantly. Fleet shoots instinctively toward the apparition in the flat: a giant gorilla with horns and bat wings. It seems very angry at Ruin. It somehow summons a wave of fear: Ruin, Fleet and I can only think to get away from that thing, only Echo manages to keep her cool. Ruin summons two of his spirits (a water spirit and a spirit of man). Battle ensues. I am useless, keeping a defensive position in the bathtub, aiming at the door for anything showing up. Alas the first person approaching is Fleet. I shoot her in the chest. Fortunately the armor blocked the bullet and will only leave a nasty bruise on her chest. Fleet then joins me in the tub and that all we wrote. Another wave of fear cripples us: Fleet and I are now catatonic in the tub, Echo still has her sheet together. The spirits keep fighting the invader, I have no idea what is happening. Fleet and I are holding each other’s hand in the bathtub while hearing the terrible battle in the next room. Walls shake, furniture is shattered. On the other side, Ruin fights for his life as the evil spirit tries to drain his magical power with a terrifying bear hug. Ruins desperately shoots a mana bolt at point blank and disables his opponent. The astral creature collapses. We know if it is no dead and will come back. We learn that this creature is actually demonic.

Echo decides to move out of the apartment before we get too much attention. She packs her stuff (not much) into a few boxes and duffel bags, then we load the car as the car sirens get closer. We then head toward Fleet’s home, where Echo is planning on moving for the time being. We figure that we’ll catch some sleep before going to the Hilton in the morning. On the way to Fleet’s place, Ruin explains that the demonic being was angry at him he had told us that the Ape wanted him to find a magical book in Hong Kong. While we rest, Echo is pulling some information about Djinn Massad. Rich guys from Dubai, owns two islands. Friend with the Hilton. Likes to bet lotta money on illegal pit fights. When seen with a woman, it’s typically a Geisha. His dad is an avid collector of artifacts. Before we leave to meet Djinn Jr, Ruin takes another look at the book: it’s got a ward, it’s a power focus.

Arriving to the Hotel, we leave our vehicles at the valet parking. Security refuses to let me upstairs if I have my Katana on me. This somehow rubs me the wrong way, I ask them to talk to our host and explain the situation. They are not willing to do so, and I refuse to back down. This leads to a Mexican standoff for a little little (my teammates do not understand my resolution). Fact is, no one touches my sword except my paladin mentor and I. Civilians just don’t get this. To avoid any further conflict, I hand off the book to Fleet, and the three others go upstairs while I stay in the smoking room, a guard keeping an eye on me. When their reach the hotel’s top floor (Massad has a penthouse there), I lose all radio connection with them. That does not sound right.

Upstairs, the others are stripped of their weapons by the orc security. They then meet Massad, who offers to just buy the book from them since he doesn’t have his part of the bargain anymore. He agrees to pay 20,000 ¥ each for the book and information to fin the geisha. This way we may be able to find the item and be paid by Odin as well if we recover it. Massad reminds my group that he doesn’t want to looking for the stolen package).

While I wait for them, I am stunned as I noticed a woman which looks a lot like our Geisha-thief! She has two men with her, checks in and goes to the second floor of the building. As my peeps arrive I explain what I saw. Echo starts hacking the hotel’s host to get her exact location. We try to book a room, but it’s all booked. Fleet tries to sneak into the service floors to reach the second floor, then settles in a small lounge near the elevator, pretending to play on his commlink. Echo accesses the hotel’s data storage. The footage indicates that the woman went to room 232, then left 5 minutes later with the three men. Asking questions to the valet parking, it seems they took an Airport shuttle a few minutes ago an seemed in a hurry.
We recover our vehicles and head over to the Tacoma Airport at top speed. Ruin sends his spirit to scan the freeways to the airport for these people. As we barrel down the highway, a cop intercepts us. The combined charm of Echo and Ruin, combined with the auspicious arrival of Fleet’s bike at full speed, allows me to avoid a fine. Ruin’s spirits finally find our quarry: they are not heading for the airport, they are going toward the West, most likely the docks! I exit the highway and head through nice neighborhoods as fast as I can, so does Fleet.

We finally arrive at the dock, and spot a seaplane preparing to takeoff. Two persons are on the dock next to the airplane. Ruin summons two spirits (Trident and Strider), but our opponent counters with two invisible spirits of his own. An invisible war begins between these supernatural beings. Fleet arrives on the docks first and starts shooting. Mon my car, Ruin casts Toxic Wave and tries both of the plane’s prop engines. It is now dead in the water, a few feet from the peer.

Suddenly a giant feline appears on my hood, obviously one of our opponents’ spirits. I try to shoot a burst of my SMG at point blank in its guts but the bullets bounce off its armor! It then breaths a cloud of poison gas into the car. Ruin and I wear our ballistic masks with gas masks and are immune to the attack, but Echo is very sick and nauseated.

One of the people inside the plane shoots a full burst at Trident, taking it down. The water spirit discorporates. I get rid of the spirit on my hood by executing a spectacular bootleg turn. The creature ends up in the sea, Ruin and I finish it.

We take over the plane and find the young asian woman I had spotted at the Hilton. She explains under duress that she was hired to be a decoy! The real thief has flown abroad while we were chasing the wrong woman. At first the girl refuses to say where her boss has gone, a few threats have her spill the beans: Honk Kong. Disappointingly, Fleet recoursed to torture, shooting the poor girl’s kneecap after being told not to cut her pinky off. Strangely, she then offered to pay for the knee replacement… Some people just can’t handle Kamikaze I guess.

Well, what then? Is it worth going to HK just to get a freaking book to return to Odin. We did promise to do that for him, so not doing so would be a black mark on our reputation. Still, that’s a long way just for 6000 or 9000 ¥. And when we’re there, finding that person will be very difficult. Only Echo speaks Chinese, and I don’t think the knows the right dialect for the region. Plus, we’ll all be outsiders over there, on an unknown turf. I don’t like this at all…

Shallow water
GM Summary

The crowd had begun to thin as if the wound of this fight between Alien and Crusher was still bleeding. Flit, frustrated she hadn’t found the Geisha, was beginning to think she had gotten away.

There is no way she could have gone this way, she thought. The hallway wasn’t wide enough to hide any longer.
As ZigZag approached, he indicated he hadn’t seen her either.

How the Fuck! Zigzag murmurs. Just then Zigzag see’s a small hairy hand wave. It was the dwarf ZZ placed his drink on.
Ah, shit. Here we go, thought Zigzag. A dead dwarf but no job payday. Maybe I should have just not answered Odin’s call. Whatever, the payday is good. ZZ just noticed it wasn’t the dwarves whole hand he was waving. It was just one finger.

fuck off pal! You should have put your money on Crusher!

ZZ wonders quickly, if he has the time to toss the dwarf, but thoughts of nuyen brought him back to, “Where the F… did she go?”

Echo wanders with the crowd trying to keep pace with the Orc body Guards heading towards another exit. She spots Ruin and they move in unison trying to keep pace.

Massad is our only link to the pay data right now. Echo thinks. Maybe he can give us some clues as to who shot at him? If he’s alive that is…

The over display of tactical location lets Zigzag and Flit know where Ruin and Echo are. Just as Flit pauses to change tactics he is drawn to the familiar Geisha color. He turns ready… and spots the falling outfit. whirling ahead, being tossed off several patrons was the dress the girl on Massad’s arm wore. Flit grabbed it and out fell a black wig.

Shit, it was a disguise.

I Hate Mondays!
From Ruin's perspective

Aftermath of Aquatic Run

The other runners were all smiles and giggles after that last Evo run, but not me. I was bleeding out of my eyes and ears and had a huge open wound over my throat courtesy of an enraged hell hound. BattleAx, ever a good friend, put me in contact with Panko Red, a street doc. I laid in Panko’s apartment for 3 days in a dream filled coma.

That damned winged ape spirit haunted me all those 3 days and tormented me while I was at death’s door. It wanted me to retrieve a tome from Hong Kong and would give me certain (ahem) magical secrets if I delivered. It was none too kind about it and wouldn’t arrange our team’s passage there. He also demanded I never tell a soul about his request.

So naturally the first thing I did after regaining consciousness was tell BattleAx. I don’t get along with bullies. The second thing I did was buy a doc wagon contract. If I keep flirting with death this closely, I’m gonna need some help. I also bought a few other gadgets to help keep me alive and learned much more about dealing with the drain of magic.

Running Odin’s Errand

I didn’t see the other runners for around a month and a half, then got a call from Zig Zag in the early evening of a random Monday. A buddy of his, Odin, was offering us a seemingly easy run. He wanted a distraction at the Hollywood hospital in the barrens so that he could sneak in the back door. He offered 3,000 nuyen each.

On the way to this hospital we were followed by a blue sedan. 3 people were inside, one of which hacked my commlink. Zig Zag shook them with some crafty driving, but we were all suspicious.

We did a little recon on the hospital, but probably not enough. We knew the hospital was known for anti-metahuman prejudice. We knew we had to make a distraction. Planning took about 5 minutes, then we started. Flit did overwatch from across the street. The rest of us sat in ZZ’s car across the street. I created an amusing illusion of a “cute” female troll doing a strip tease, then getting in a fist fight with some rowdy humans. The two dwarf guards in front didn’t seem to care. Wait, dwarves? Yes, this anti-metahuman hospital appeared to have dwarven guards. Strange…

Flit decided to escalate the distraction and shot an old man exiting the hospital w/ a stick ‘n’ shock round. Before I had a chance to react to Flit’s random violence, many huge explosions rocked the hospital. An entire wall collapsed, along with the glass windows and doors at the front entrance. Damn, Flit, what did you load that gun with??

Then all hell broke loose. We watched a fight evolve between these dwarves and human guards. I couldn’t figure out which ones were the legitimate guards, til Echo wisely pointed out that the hospital wouldn’t have hired dwarven security. Flit seemed to go crazy and basically shot everything moving. Luckily not her teammates.

The team says that I have “singe-lust” (i.e. I want to use my manabolt to fix all my problems), but Flit’s behavior makes me look peaceful in comparison. My philosophy is to leave no witnesses alive after an encounter, but also to try to prevent anyone from becoming a witness in the first place!

The dwarves were definitely winning. Then a dwarf wearing some bright orange coveralls ran from the hospital, got tossed a gun, and piled into a pickup truck that was approaching. The rest of the dwarves jumped in as well, except one which was too far away. That lone dwarf ran a different direction.

The distraction seemed to be complete, so our team pulled away. We intercepted the lone dwarf that ran in a different direction and Echo tried to talk to him. “Odin sent us!” The dwarf acted like he had no idea who that was, and intimidated us by showing us he had enough grenades to supply a platoon of soldiers. We decided to let him go on his way.

Later we researched a bit more into those dwarves at the hospital. It seems they were with The Red Hot Nukes, which is a gang of dwarven adepts. They have a test for their best members. You have to disarm a bomb. If you succeed you join the inner circle gang, The Fallout Boys. This would explain the explosions and all-dwarf team we saw. They probably were doing a prison break. But what was the prisoner doing in the hospital?

That was the only shadowrun I’ve ever been a part of that I’d call a milk run. But then the catch came – Odin told us he couldn’t pay as the full amount just yet. Why is there always a catch? Frakking Mondays.

Delivering a Tome

We arranged an additional job with Odin and negotiated hard for our terms. in the end, here’s what was agreed on: He would pay us 2250 each for the first run, and would owe us 750 which he would pay when he paid us for the second run. The second run he’d pay 8000 each for, plus 3000 more each if we finished within 48 hours.

(are these numbers correct? What do your notes say, DJ?)

The second run involved delivering a tome to Djinni Masad. Djinni would give us a small package (non-explosive) that we would return to Odin. We went to Glow City to Odin’s house to get the tome. I thought the Barrens was pretty bad, but Glow City is a radioactive wasteland. Hard to believe this hell hole exists just a few miles from Seattle. Zig Zag really has some classy contacts.

Before we approached Odin’s home I summoned a spirit of Man. This was a weird thing. It was much stronger than I called for, and immediately manifested, looking all of broken arms and bent bones. Foul! Must be something in the magical atmosphere of Glow City that caused this to happen.

Anyway, we retrieved the tome from Odin’s house. I was curious about it, wondering if it was connected to the Hong Kong tome I was supposed to retrieve, and so I opened it up. As soon as I touched it I was knocked out and the team didn’t want me near the thing after that. Oh well. I got some pictures of its cover, which I’ll have to show BattleAx and my other magician friends.

I almost forgot to mention — the astral ape came back to haunt me while I was knocked out from grabbing the book. He told me that he knew I had told BattleAx that he wanted the tome. Yeah, whatever, punk.

We got GPS coordinates for Masad. He was at an Underground Urbal Brawl fighting event. Seems like the kind of thing our fixer friend Mario would enjoy. The fighting event of the night was Crusher, a rhino-sized troll w/ wrecking balls for hands, vs. Alien, a 9 foot tall minotaur with an attitude. I put 100 on Alien just for fun.

This event was popular with underworld types. There were Ancients, Yakuza, Cutters, and even a few Vory we had seen before. We avoided them because of the hit they have out on us.

We spotted Masad in the crowd, surrounded by bodyguards and with a geisha-like woman hanging on his arm. Zig Zag tried to push through the crowd to get close, but his bodyguards got suspicious and kept him away. The fight was starting at that moment, so they didn’t care what Zig had to say.

While the fight went on Echo and I saw some suspicious activity. Two guys were staring straight at Masad and didn’t seem to care about the fight. Another guy in the crowd did the same thing, but put a hand in a coat pocket and seemed to point a weapon at Masad.

Crusher won the fight just then (goodbye 100 nuyen) and the crowd went crazy. We saw Masad had collapsed. The geisha searched him and took something, then sprinted away, moving far too quick for a normal person.

This is why I hate Mondays. Nothing goes according to plan.

Flit chased after the geisha. I tried to help Flit out with some spells, but I couldn’t spot her. Some spellcaster in the crowd was throwing some physical damage spells at Flit, but I counterspelled them smartly. (I suspect the mage was one of the people staring at Masad during the fight.)

Flit couldn’t quite spot the geisha, but had an idea where she was headed. I sent Slider, my air spirit, to search for the geisha. I would have used that spirit of man I had called earlier, but that creature was manifested on the street above. I hadn’t told him to manifest or to hang out above us. It was quite disobedient for a summoned spirit!

Echo and I had no chance running to keep up with the action, so we turned our attention to Masad’s bodyguards, one of which was an Ork who was carrying him away.

(to be continued next game session)

Echo's interlude

As per usual, I’m broke again. At least I paid back Ruin the nuyen I owed him. So, no new toys for after this run. I don’t much need money to become better at what I do. Anyway, money is usually spent for stuff in meatspace. Not my favorite place.

Lately I’ve been submerging in the Resonance Realms. I’m learning how to forge a direct connection with devices just by touching them. And if another technomancer has this skill, we could communicate just by touching. I wonder if that means I could have done a mind meld with the techno-whale, like Spock in Star Trek: The Voyage Home.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could finish a job and have plenty of time to explore the location, both meatspace and matrix? I really wanted to see if they had anything else there at the Aquacology. One of the data files mentioned that alien life was found on earth. Was it at the Aquacology? Evo Corp has a base on Mars and they’re all over space. Who knows that they had down there in the research facility.

Unfortunately, we had to split as soon as the job was done. Security was on us and there was no time to explore. We were all injured. Most of my injuries were self-inflicted: fading and dumpshock. But we freed the whale and copied the research data. We got out and kept the authorities at bay until we were in the clear.

Our team was reluctant to deliver the paydata in person. Apparently, if Terminator’s in a mood, he’ll kill runners even if they succeeded at the job. At first I wanted to deliver the package. After all, we didn’t just do the job, we slayed it. I’m reasonably confident that I could steer Terminator’s mood to the non-homicidal side of the fence. Even so, I was nervous, so I eventually sided with the idea that we would hire a courier.

After the data was delivered, Bogart said Terminator was offended because we didn’t deliver in person. Disrespectful, Bogart said. Even so, there was a 5K bonus in it for us. Bogart made it sound like there might have been more if we brought the package to the Terminator ourselves. Instead, the Terminator put a 20K nuyen price on our heads.

First of all, I can’t help but wonder if Bogart is making this up. Maybe he pocketed a huge chunk of money, then made up the story about disrespect and the bounty to prevent us into contacting the Terminator to learn the real details. Or maybe the Terminator is cheesed at us. It couldn’t be too bad. 20K¥ is nothing. At least, it’s not enough to take the threat seriously.

What’s next? Well, I’m just planning for today. I should really spend more time in the physical world. This week I’m dog-sitting Loki, my neighbor’s pet. She has an awesome entertainment chamber. Loki and I can settle in on her couch to watch a flick. I wonder if they remastered Star Trek IV into Trideo.

Zig-Zag educational vacation

ZZ was contemplating his armored leather trenchcoat. The damn thing, covered in heavy metal type spikes an patches, had saved his life once again. He was pulling the shrapnels from the outer shell with a plier. Those came from his own grenade, prematurely detonated by a frakking Decker as he was placing a trap. Zig had come out of the Evo infiltration relatively unscathed, all things considered. The team ZZ had joined was getting solid, but needed to coordinate better during fights, three of us didn’t need to drop when we freed technoshamoo. In any case, that new kid Echo was a great asset to have with us.

Now the payoff from that job was going to allow him to purchase a brand new Commlink (the previous had proved quite unfit to prevent the grenade from being hacked, hopefully the next one will do a better job). Note to self: always slave my ’nades (pun intended) behind the commlink. The new model, a Pulse Wave, included a Biomonitor and an slightly boosted firewall. Coupled with a new Auto-Injector placed in his armored leather pants, the biomonitor could inject him automatically with stim or trauma patch when needed. The injector was also loaded with a dose of Kamikaze and a dose of Jazz (aka Kamikaze-lite) which could be triggered by code words: Banzaï for the first, and “Ballroom Blitz” for the second.

Next, ZZ was going to spend some time at an archery range to learn how to use bows. Silent and deadly, these fine weapons were fit for a Paladin! The next few days would be spent in a baseball cage, practicing throwing grenade-like shapes (aka softballs).

A few more days of rest, a few more days or partying hard, and Zig-Zag was ready to go for a new job. Yes, we had one more enemy (the Terminator had placed a hit on our heads for our lack of respect), but that’s part of a Shadowrunner’s life right?

From Whence We Came
Free Willy

Wine sparkles in the soft candlelight as I pour the deep maroon liquid into glasses. The color reminds me briefly of blood. Through the window, I can hear the pulsing beat of dance music from a nearby club. A breeze dances across my naked skin. With a shake of my head and a grin, I grab the glasses and rush across the room. I slide into bed and hand a glass to the ork wrapped in a sheet. She is stretched out with her head resting on her arm.

“Ok. Time to finish your story,” Babot says with a yawn as she sips the wine. “What brought you and your friends to my doorstep. Not that I’m complaining mind you.” She grins mischievously at me. “Even with all the security trouble, it worked out pretty good for me.”

I chuckle a little as I lean back in the bed.

“Where was I when I was so rudely interrupted,” I ask with a raised eyebrow. Babot grunts in mock indignation as she playfully slaps my arm. Wine sloshes out the goblet and runs down my hand.

“I didn’t hear any complaints,” she growls at me. She thinks for a moment, “You had just reached the room with the whale and Zig-Zag had just demanded the whale’s freedom.”

I take a gulp of wine. My free hand is tracing the swirling tattoo patterns on Babot’s neck.

“I was acting as the rearguard. I stared down the hallway intently, looking for pursuit. Over comms I heard a male voice scream, “You’ll never make it out of here alive!” Drek! That’s never good.

In the corner of my vision I pulled up Zig’s camera feed, and I saw an older and younger man squaring off opposite Zig-zag. In the background, an orca hung from the ceiling. Huh; never a dull moment. I refocused my attention down the long corridor, just in time to see the doors crack open and a hand flung a small cylinder down the hall. Frak!

I pivoted and moved down the hallway toward the whale room. I could feel the adrenaline start to coarse through my body in a rush. Just as I reached the end of the hallway, I see Zig sprint off toward the techs. The grenade exploded in a burst of smoke and luminescent paint.

The older man raised his hands, and junk from all across the room skittered towards him to create a large barrier. Zig raised his gun and with a short burst blasted a massive hole in the barrier behind which the two saps were cowering. Zig bellowed, “I said, release the whale!”

Behind me, I hear the hydraulic doors slide open. Two hellhounds started to run down the hallway. After a few steps, they stopped. They started to snap, growl, and lunge at open air. One let out a loud yowl before it slid to the side, almost as if it had been struck by an unseen force. Standing beside me Ruin is working his mojo. A wave of toxic energy pulsed across the room crashing into the ceiling mechanism the held the whale in the air.

Two meta-human shapes appeared at the end of the hallway. I took a shot, and it glanced off armor doing no damage. Mother Frakker! I spun to the side and took cover around the corner. One of the guards shouted something in Japanese, and a hellhound bounded down the hallway and attacked Ruin who collapsed to the floor. Now I was worried. I grabbed a small canister strapped to my chest, and with mixed trepidation and anticipation, I raised the inhaler to my lips. With shaking hands, I took a puff of the drug. Ecstasy burst through my veins as the drug worked its magic. The rest of the fight is hazy, blurred by the effects of kamikaze. I know Zig took care of the older mage. I shot the hound savaging Ruin while Echo released the whale.

We secured the room and applied some quick first aid. The younger lab tech disappeared into the water with the whale. I took up a guard position across from the main doors. Reinforcements arrived, but we made quick mincemeat out of them. Zig had the idea to place a booby trap with a pair of grenades; sadly an enemy decker managed to detonate them before he could clear the scene. Zig managed to live through the mishap. He is one tough son-of-a-bitch. I hope I never have to cross blades with him, although, I have to admit that would be an interesting day.

Anyway, we escaped through the pool and made our way back to our scuba gear. We reunited with Echo, who looked like a cup of sick; it seems she had some trouble in the matrix, in the boat. We saw unidentified people towing away the techno-whale. We contemplated trying to save it, but we were hurting, and we had completed the job. We freed it. What happened after wasn’t our concern.

In the distance, we saw a search boat scanning the waters. In a drug induced fury, I opened fire on the boat. Between my bullets and Ruin’s magic, we disabled the search light and made our escape.

We decided to head to a safe house upon arriving at the shore. Turns out the nearest safehouse was a hostel run by this hot orc chica.”

I can feel Babot snort from the other side of the bed, and I smile. “As you know, during the night the police raided the safe house and through a bit of clever talking on the part of the group we managed to convince the pigs we weren’t connected to the shenanigans in the bay.

We sent Bogart to deliver the pay data to Terminator hoping that would make us square. Terminator was not pleased that we didn’t deliver the data in person. I hear he put a bounty out. A measly twenty grand. I have a feeling we are going to have to take care of that cold hearted bastard.”

I down the rest of my wine in a single gulp and place the glass on the nightstand as I roll to face Babot.

“I figured I owed you an apology for the disturbance, hence the visit and wine.”
“I appreciate the gesture,” Babot replies. “I’d say you have resolved fifty percent of the bother.”

“Well,” I whisper as I lean towards her, “I guess I’d better get to work resolving the other half…”

Ruin Catches His Breath
The Action Mid-Run as seen by Ruin

Zig Zag and Ruin approached the final door they had to open before entering the room that should have the imprisoned Killer Whale. Zig Zag whispered something to Ruin about opening the lock. Ruin couldn’t see Zig Zag working, since he was invisible, but saw the door respond to ZZ’s movements, and knew ZZ was picking the lock with his maglock passkey. Ruin had a much needed moment to catch his breath.

First, his hands went up to his eyebrows and beard. They were singed, and the beard would need a trim, but not all the hair was gone. That damned hellhound’s fiery breath could have killed him if he hadn’t gotten the fire retardant material on his Sleeping Tiger Suit. Good planning. Firing an unsilenced gun in the middle of a stealth run? Not so good.

Next, Ruin topped off the clip on his Guardian Savalette. Hopefully he wouldn’t need the gun, but better safe than sorry.

Now Ruin had nothing to do but wait. For one of the first times in his Shadowrunning career he felt scared.

That Ape entity was out there and was still after him. He couldn’t just pop into the astral whenever he felt like it. He was being stalked. The creature that had attacked him at Terminator’s HQ was the same one who attacked him during his recon of the Evo research facility. On the astral it appeared to be a huge ape with wings. Whatever it hit got chilled as if by frost.

What in the 13 hells did the thing want? He had told Ruin he wanted Ruin to be his pupil. The thing had a barbaric way of recruiting students. Did he expect Ruin to roll over and play dead out of reverence for his new teacher? Ruin much preferred manners over muscle flexing.

I don’t want to serve some sadistic brute. Ruin thought to himself. He silently chanted to himself and reached out mentally to his mentor spirit for help. 野猪 hear me! Protect me from this creature and show me the way through this mess. I will not be enslaved by a tyrant.

Ruin reached into his pouch of spell components and pulled out some psionic berries to munch on. Just as he did so the door popped open.

“Show time!” he whispered to ZZ, and they both stepped through the door.

A whale of a tale
As seen by Echo

I’m impressed. The runners Pandora set me up with are professionals. They did a lot of prep work before starting the run. Flit and Zig Zag took diving lessons so they could get into and out of Aquacology with ease. When we met up again, they already had two wet suits and a water scooter. Ruin called a demolitionist to provide us with a shaped charge that could crack the glass domes of the underwater rooms. Good grid! I hope that is only used as a last resort.

Not surprisingly, we were attacked by Ancients on the way to pick up the explosive. I was almost useless, but then combat is not my forté. Anyway, the fight was over before I had a chance to take a 2nd shot. Zig Zag launched a flash bang to break their focus before shooting them down. Flit used her monofilament to slice them up. At one point a neatly amputated arm was flying through the air. Best of all, Ruin called his fire spirit, who fried a few of the Ancients. Those guys never had a chance.

Bam Bam, a dwarf with intriguing burn scars, provided us with the dome-cracker. Then we bought two more suits and a 2nd water scooter, so that we all had transport underwater.

Upon reaching the waterfront, we started looking for a boat to “borrow.” The easiest one to procure had two passionate dwarves in flagrante delicto. Not wanting to break up the lovers, we sought a different vessel. Zig Zag managed to hot wire a fishing boat.

Ruin conjured Trident, a water spirit. We launched, leaving the waterfront and set off to Aquacology. Trident created a wispy fog that concealed our approach. Once we reached the research center, Flit, Ruin and Zig Zag dropped quietly into the water. Staying in the boat, I curled up into a ball and dove into Hot-Sim.

Their host was locked up tight. With help from Lemon Lime Sprite, I got a mark and silently entered the host. Looking around, I found their security. It included sensors that would detect pressure changes when doors opened between chambers.

The others dove to the lowest level and came up through the moon pool. I didn’t see them on the security cameras. They were invisible, duh. Nice magic. Before they left that room, I tricked the pressure readout to think there was no pressure change when they opened the door. So far, so good.

They were able to reach the elevator undetected. Then some security guards patrolled through with a hellhound. The beast sniffed the air, turned its head to Zig Zag and growled.

Searching through the Aquacology host, I found the paydata. This is where you really need to be careful. I’m sure my meat body sighed with relief once I felt certain there was no data bomb. However, that file was huge. It would take forever to download.

One of the overpaid security guards tried to calm the hellhound. By the time he realized he should have respected the paranormal beast, he was already on the floor, bleeding out. Ruin used his mind control magic to prevent the other guard from raising an alert. He made a run for it, and Zig Zag chased him down. They finished the hapless guard in seconds.

I browsed through personal logs until the download was complete. Paydata in hand, I left the data bank and went searching for the orca. I’ve never encountered an animal on the matrix before. But then, not everything on the matrix is human, and sometimes it’s hard to tell humans from other entities. There was indeed a marine persona. It was mute, but I could sense it was distressed. It was captive and wanted escape. I told it, “We’re here to rescue you.”

Zig Zag, Flit, and Ruin entered the pool chamber where they saw a whale in a harness. Two researchers turned from their consoles but they saw no one. Zig Zag yells, “Release the killer whale.”

Personally, at this point I’m always hoping the target surrenders and promises not to cause any trouble. Of course, that rarely happens. Instead, one of the researchers replies, “You’ll never get out of here alive…”

Downtime and Loose Ends
Told from Ruin's perspective

The cast:

Echo – human female “matrix specialist” (ahem)
Zig Zag – elven male street sammie
Flit – transgender human street sammie
I’m Ruin, a human mage. I practice magic. The darkest magic. My soul swims in it. Kind of like this, but darker:

In short, we’re 1/2 firepower, 1/4 magic support, 1/4 matrix support.

Finishing Up With Johnson

After having nearly lost Bam Bam and Zig Zag to Mr. Johnson and his crew, we were stunned to find that Johnson had the chutzpah to want us to deliver the toxic reagent to him again. We exchanged phone calls a few times. We pushed Johnson for more info on who he was working for but he kept quiet. He did reveal that he didn’t want us dead, but his superiors. I think our team wasn’t so hot on killing Johnson when this was revealed.

Johnson insisted that the attempt to kill us was “just business” and I decided we’d charge him 3,000 per runner for each time he said this. Sadly we couldn’t get him to agree to the extra 60,000 nuyen (5 × 12,000) for the delivery, but he did agree to 1,600 credit each (8,000 total) from the High Score equipment shop in the Crime mall in Seattle.

He tried to give us a location to meet at, but I obviously wasn’t going to play that game again. (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… )

We arranged for a dead drop in a dumpster of the mall. I planted the toxic reagent in a dumpster while obscured by a magical disguise (homeless ork, female). Flit, also in disguise, kept an eye on who went to pick it up. Turns out it was Mario, the proprietor of the High Score shop. Flit tried to get close to plant an RFID tag on Mario, but Mario was suspicious and held Flit at bay with a pistol, not letting Flit get close. Flit needs to learn some dumpster etiquette, perhaps.

Zig Zag and I rushed to High Score, but Mario was already there. ZZ spotted the bag with the reagent, and gave Mario something to look for in the back room. He then jumped the counter and went to place the tag. He almost got caught when Mario returned, but I hastily made ZZ invisible and Mario was none the wiser. RFID tag planted, we did some shopping at the store and then waited back at our homes for the reagent to get in motion.

Finally at around 8 pm it started moving. We scrambled to our vehicles and followed the tag from far away. It ultimately ended up near Boeing and disappeared. I know that Boeing is part of Ares, so I pressed my contacts on why Ares might want a toxic reagent. No one had a clue. Maybe it was a red herring, or maybe just too big of a secret for my friends to know about.

On the way back home we got funneled into a classic gang trap. Our cars were at a chokepoint and gangers closed in on all sides. Shots were traded, a toxic wave of mine exploded, and ZZ got us out of there with a sharp U turn. We killed a few of the gangers, but I caught a burst of automatic fire from behind. Luckily my armored vest absorbed most of the damage. Still left some ugly purple bruising, though. Sometimes this job sucks.


A couple weeks passed. We all trained and collected gear. ZZ had some new cyberwear put in and got his sedan armored. Bam Bam headed off to do his/her own thing. Flit started swinging around a new toy, a monofilament whip. Davina disappeared to find Wall and never reappeared. She wouldn’t answer calls neither. I learned more about arcana and picked up a new Heal spell. I also got an expensive and useful set of Sleeping Tiger armor.

Catching Up With Bogart

Bogart wanted to meet up with us. He was very concerned that we hadn’t “cleaned” the VTOL craft before selling it. Rather than accept his part of the blame for this he threw us under the bus and talked about paying back 10% of our take.

We were hanging out at Thule’s old warehouse, when a strange young woman knocked on our door. Her name was Echo and she was a personable hacker who said she was sent by Bogart. Bogart wanted her with us so we wouldn’t make rookie mistakes again due to lack of matrix support. I have a good feeling for these things and could tell she was on the level. It was weird that she had no cyberdeck, though. She fell right in with the group and felt like a natural addition. Odd how she went from stranger to friend in just a few hours. That’s Echo’s special brand of personal magic – trust building.

Flit, Zig Zag, Echo, and myself headed to our meet with Bogart. He didn’t answer his bell and when we went in to check the situation out we came across “The Terminator” and a bunch of his goons. Only Echo knew who this guy was, but she filled us in. He was bad news – a vory member with 2 cyber arms. (Vory are Russian mobsters who were former KGB.) After they left the area we met with Bogart, who Terminator had just visited.

Bogart, who sounded a lot like James Cagney, explained that we’d need to meet with Terminator. He, apparently, was the buyer of the VTOL and he wasn’t happy that it wasn’t cleaned before sales. (People are so immature. They always point their finger at someone else, never accepting responsibility for their own mistakes.)

Bogart told us we were to meet with the Terminator by midnight. I was in need of a commlink, and Bogart gave me an Erika Elite in exchange for a later favor.

The Terminator

This guy had his goons all around him and we had to give up our weapons before we even got in the same room as him. Null sweat. Risk comes with the job. Flit and Echo charmed him with sweet talk and he became willing to give us a chance to make up for our mistake. Turns out Terminator didn’t really want money from us, but work. He might even throw us a little cash. I tried to help negotiations, but was distracted. I tried looking at the scene from the astral. As soon as I went dual natured I was attacked astrally and slapped solidly. I closed my third eye rapidly before I got slapped even worse. (These people show no hospitality whatsoever.)

Terminator wanted us to check out an Evo research base. It’s a 7 story tall base, with 2 stories above water and 5 stories below water. It moves from up north in former Canada to the Seattle area and back again. It comes near Seattle every 20 days. Terminator wanted us to figure out what they were researching and get their data. We accepted the run (as if we had a choice) and started researching.

Echo soon proved her value by getting some floor plans of the 5 stories below water. There was a main area, and the bottom 2 levels had smaller pods branching off. There was a watery access point at the very bottom level.

We talked to our contacts and came up with these three side missions:

  • According to Battle Ax, my fixer, Evo is known for having reagents of interest. Battle Ax would like whatever reagents they are working on harvesting.
  • Flit had a lead on matrix-enabled animals that we might encounter.
  • Echo had a financial offer for liberating a Killer Whale they had captive. Echo wouldn’t reveal which group was offering the reward. Hope that doesn’t mean they’re terrorists.

ZZ and Flit learned to scuba dive. ZZ got a lead on renting some underwater gear. I summoned a water spirit who could control the weather. We talked about how to best enter the place and achieve our goals.

It’s now 2 days before the research base is expected in the area. I loaned Flit 4000 nuyen and Echo 2000 nuyen. No interest on this loan, but Flit did have to give me a kiss. (I have my needs like anyone else.)

Stronger, faster

Zig-Zag had a buttload of Nuyens in his credsticks and a few weeks to spend them. That was easy: new armor, new Oni-faced ballistic mask, a couple gizmos. Check. But something was missing: After dropping when shot point-blank during our last altercation with the traitorous Johnson (Just business my elven arse), the elf decided he needed to be more resilient….

So he took an appointment with Dr Butcher, his favorite ripperdoc. The infamous surgeon had just what he needed for the job: Bone Density Augmentation. The Alphaware grade Nanotbots canister was just fresh out of “fallen from the truck,” and still sealed to boot. That would set ZZ back quite a bit, but would also improve the street samurai’s survival rate by a fat notch! So he bit the proverbial bullet (not literally this time) and got the treatment started.

After a couple uncomfortable weeks (it felt like growing bone spurs for a while, something Trolls are probably familiar with all their life), ZZ was 10 pounds of high-impact polymer heavier, something he’d have to train to compensate for during Parkour, gymnastics and martial arts. But it was way worth it. Not only could ZZ wince away most unarmed hits, but even a baseball bat strike would barely phase him. Bullets would be a different matter, but he had his new punk fashioned leather coat for that. The Bone Density Augmentation also had a nice perk: punching, kicking and head-butting was a lot more powerful now.

ZZ felt like he was ready to have another talk with our dear Mr Johnson: just business, of course.


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