I get back from Los Angeles, and the whole crew is razing me about my haircut. Seriously, they act like it is the next big thing. Did you join back up in the army? Yep, I sure did, and my first mission is to come back home and do nothing. That’s the convenient part of re-joining after going AWOL in the first place, they actually give you a promotion and then let you go back home and relax. Additionally, the gracious pay of 3500¥ a month is much better then the petty mil-and-a-quarter we made at the Arc earlier this month. Zany could come in with a 8-inch spiked mohawk and they all just say hi, and not bear it a second glance. I get a haircut, and it is the Spanish inquisition. Speaking of which, she is still a little mad at me cause I took a few days to head down south to talk to Case. She disappears for days on end while siphoning money off of me to pay for treatment for a psychotic friend that tried to kill me and I should accept that, but I am in the doghouse for taking an opportunity to head out of town for a few days to catch up with a friend. Women.
While I was away, the crew had met with some bigwig exec from the Draco Foundation to see about the information that we acquired from behind the mysterious door #1835. It’s not that Renraku hadn’t paid us for our job, but I admit when you look at how much they paid us, it seems like a drop in the bucket to them. We managed to recover the Arc for them, saved tens of thousands of lives, and all I get to hear on the news are both the UCAS and Renraku are bickering over who liberated the Arc. It’s kinda insulting to hear them argue over which one of them is the hero of the day, so, I do not feel too guilty on cashing in on our side project while we were in there. Evidently, they seemed pleased with what Peregrine extracted and paid us in full, no questions asked. There is some speculation within our crew to what that intel was, but they are not forthcoming about it. As agreed, we split Peregrine in for an equal share. While Rook still appears to be affected by whatever Deus did to him in the Arc, Doc seems to have gotten over it. He actually is able to maintain a normal appetite. Sadly, Dot is now showing the same symptoms as Doc was only the day before. It is as if the effect simply jumped from one to the other. Since we are still in the dark to what it is that has been affecting them since their ‘infection’, it is frustrating that they cannot medically address the effects, much less figure out what it is. They have seen several standard and specialist doctors, and more recently, alternate avenues, such as voodoo and holistic medicines, all to no effect. There is speculation, but nothing that seems to fit their conditions. It seems unlikely that they have become wendigos or vampires, as more recent theories have suggested…
It is late in the afternoon, when Red says that someone called her to see about some work. Although, the money status is good enough that we could probably all pass on it, we agree to meet with the concerned parties to see what it is about. We are told to meet at Lenny’s Tap, a rundown dive of a bar in Renton, just a block or two from the suites that Doc, Scratch and I crashed at when Scratch and I first got in town. We get to Lenny’s and are soon meeting a middle-aged man named Zilch, who was just slinging Dozer to some local junkie, from a room at the back of the bar. Nice. He has a little seller’s office is in the back of the bar, and it looks like a former store room that now serves as his lived-in office. He tries to hit us with some street lingo, but all he manages to do is convince me is that he does not really belong here. Nevertheless, he quickly cuts to the chase. Evidently, his 15 year-old son, Cooper is missing. Or not really his son, as he skirts around telling us who this kid is or what their relation really is, but it seems to be someone that he is genuinely concerned about. He says that he sold some ‘merchandise’ to the Night Hunters two days ago, and they then claimed that they never got the shipment. He says that, the deal was done legitimately, and in return, they said they kidnapped his son. They now demand the ‘merchandise’ as well as their money back. Normally, he’d send out his thug, John, to handle the problem, but Johnny-boy has conveniently not shown up for work today. He defends his drug dealing as a means to provide services to a community that wants supply, and brags about his wide range of clientèle, beyond just the dregs of society that are here. If that is the case, why is he comfortably slumming in Renton, selling Dozer to the bottom-feeding junkies here? Regardless, he offers us 125k, plus 125k of merchandise, plus half the merchandise he sold them, if we are able to recover it. We agree to discuss it, and step out of the room. I am insistent that I do not want any payment in the form of drugs. No way. I’ve got enough reasons to not be arrested, that I don’t need that garbage adding to it. The group agrees, even though Rook believes that we could probably turn it for a quick profit. We tell him that we’ll help, but not for drugs as payment. We are also only interested in getting Cooper back, we are not taking out the gang. We banter and agree on 175k. He also requests that Cooper does not need to know about the whole dad-is-not-your-father thing. He gives us his address on Queen Ann Hill, where his son was this morning, as well as John’s address in Bellevue, since he has been unable to reach either of them on their phones. He lives in Queen Anne Hill? Again, I find myself wondering what he is doing here in Renton. It does seem strange that this man, who seems to care for is ‘son’ does not seem inclined to stop slinging dope when we tell him the all we are doing is getting his son back, not taking on the Night Hunters. If they felt like it, there would be nothing to stop them from taking him hostage again.
Once out of his ‘office’, I call Pookie. If there is anyone who is up on the gang’s activities in the area, he’d be the one to know about it. The phone rings way too long, and I am about to hang up, and drive over to the suites, when he finally answers. I ask him about his gang’s association with a dealer named Zilch, and he says that they buy ‘merchandise’ from him consistently, but he says there is no ill will between them, and the last deal they had was a few months ago, not two days ago. He does say that the deals are coordinated between some Night Hunter named Kat and Zilch’s lackey, Johnny-boy. Pookie does not seem to be hiding anything there, but I want him to be clear that if they did stoop to swiping a kid to blackmail his dad, for any reason, I will make them regret it. He assures me that this is not the case, they are actually on good terms with Zilch. Now that seemed to contradict some of the intel that Zilch told us – but he also seemed sincere. Doc and Rook seemed to taken note of a pin on his lapel, it was burgundy and yellow. The believe that is the colors of Harvard University. So, the kidnapped son is not his son, he does not talk like someone from the streets, as he pretends to be from, and now he has apparently quite a prestigious college education? Zilch seems to have more questions and inconsistencies in his story than I like in an initial five-minute conversation. Not that we don’t all have secrets ourselves, I guess. John’s address would be en route to Zilch’s, so we agree to head to his place first, and see why was unable to make it in to work today.
We get about a block from his address in Bellevue, when the streets surrounding his block are surprisingly blocked off by several Lonestar cruisers. Drek. As we pass by, we see a truckload of SWAT officers on the street in the front of the apartment complex, looking like they are prepping to enter. As inconspicuously as we are able, we casually dive by, as Drake calls his mostly useless, occasional girlfriend Arianna to see what is going on here. She tells him that there was reports of a firefight in the building, in room 322, ironically John’s room. She says that initial reports show that there was much small caliber fire fired into the room, while a larger caliber was fired out. At stands, the room is barricaded from the inside, and they have yet to breach and enter. Well, there goes that idea. I suggest that we could try to sneak in, that is Rook and Red, could sneak in. Surprisingly, Rook steadfastly refuses to budge on entering in with Lonestar hanging around, suggesting that Red do the infiltration her self. I though they’d be good in tandem, and I don’t want to send in Red by herself, she has a tendency to get herself shot, so Drake pops up a UAV to keep an eye on the scene, as we pass by. We’ll check back with Arianna later and see if we can get answers from her, once they get into his apartment. I know that Rook has some bad history with Lonestar and tries to avoid them, but this is what we get paid to do. I swallow my ire, and we move on towards Queen Anne hill.
We get to his house, which is more of a mansion. The place is large, probably the largest house we have seen in several miles of large, and expensive houses. The area is AAA-level security, so we drive around like lost tourists to see what we can spot on the pass by rather than looking even more suspicious by pulling over in front of the house. A quick pass shows that the gate is unlatched, and there appears to be a great deal of security cameras around the property. Again, I suggest that Rook and Red case the area, but, again, Rook is unmoving from his seat. Seriously, what the hell is up with Captain Cowardly here? He is spouting off about this looks like a Lonestar set up, and is more or less unwilling to co-operate. Fine. A 16 year-old girl, is showing enough sack here to run this solo, so she pulls on her invisible cloak and enters the courtyard. She gets to the door, and we see that the front door has been breached. It looks like someone shot open the door lock, and kicked in the door. While searching, Doc mojo-views around and says the he sees nothing living on the property, but does see an open space underground, likely a rood-cellar. However, there is no basement, and the compartment appears to have no access points, short of demolitions or a shovel. While Doc and Red are searching, I call Chips. Perhaps, he can let us know who lives here. A pizza delivery bribe motivates him to quickly call back. The house has was owned by one Xavier Ramirez, who strangely died three years ago. Evidently, this house was inherited by Xavier, until the ownership then transferred to his sister, Sandra. Strangely, though, the ownership transferred back to Xavier in 2058, who still appears dead. Xavier, who’s picture is that of Zilch, albeit a few years younger, was pronounced dead when his boat was found unoccupied and adrift in the Caribbean League’s waters. Blood evidence on the boat, led to suspicions that he was killed by pirates. Xavier had graduated from Harvard with a degree in Business management, and worked at several pharmacies prior to his disappearance. He was unmarried and had no children. More confusion. I’m debating that we call him and tell him the deal is off, but something has happened to Cooper, which regardless of whatever in the hell Zilch is up to, is not Cooper’s fault.
Red spends a few minutes searching the building, and the only real odd thing is that Cooper’s room appears to have been ransacked – the closet is open, and the room looks like someone was looking for someone here. A crumpled note on the bed, says that Cooper was telling his dad that he was heading over to Tommy’s house. The note seems to suggest that Cooper cares for his would-be father as well. Before she leaves, Red takes a look in the security room, and we see that footage between 09:22 and 09:31 is missing. The replay also shows Cooper leaving around 09:00 after leaving a non-crumpled note on his bed. Drek. Whoever was here, read the note and now has a 12-hour head start on finding this Tommy. Red manages to find a phone number for ‘Tommy W’ on their network, so we call it and it goes to voice mail. Red asks Chips to run a trace on Cooper and Tommy’s phone, maybe we can find out where they are. Chips calls back to say they are located in East Seattle Bellevue Halls, Apt C. The apartment is registered to Wilson. Having little else to go on, we head there.
I am more than a bit taken aback when we arrive, the front of the apartment has been shredded by a high volume of machine gun fire from the outside. Doc mojo-views the area and says that there is nothing living in the Wilson residence, however, the neighbors appear to be alive. Enough of this cloak & dagger routine, we I can’t waste time trying to get Rook to check it out with Red, so I head in with her in tow, while Rook and Doc head off to check on the neighbors. Drake waits in the van, in case we need a quick exfil. Inside the house are a total of 5 bodies, two of them adults, one teenage boy, and two children, aged maybe between six and ten. Although it appears that several of them were hit by the spray from outside, they all have a single shot in their head, execution style. Next to the teenage boy, is another phone, Cooper’s. Where in the hell is Lonestar? This is also a AAA-security zone, this area should be roped off with dozens of officers crawling all over. What is going on here? Doc and Rook return and say that the neighbors said, that around 10:30, they heard the sounds of gunfire outside, and quickly took cover. Moments later, a man from outside told them that the house was set up to explode if anyone left or tried to call Lone Star. Fearful for their lives, they complied. It doesn’t explain why Lonestar’s usually overwhelming presence was absent from here as well. In these zones, they’ll stop by and question people for simply looking suspicious. This attack was 12 hours ago, and not a peep from them? We pile in the van and start to head back to Renton, this is enough, we have to get some info from Zilch here. Again, Drake calls Arianna and asks her why no one from Lonestar was here. Her explanation is even more cryptic. The ‘official’ response was that nothing happened at the East Seattle Bellevue Halls. The unofficial word is that word from above her said that they are to ignore any and all events that happened in three areas until further notice. This block, the Ramirez residence, and Lenny’s. Drek. Additionally, she says that they made it into John’s apartment, and it was devoid of life. Evidently, Johnny-boy, had an escape tunnel that allowed him to get into the parking garage, and they have no idea where he is now.
We double time it back to Lenny’s and enter the bar. All seems normal, there has been no rampant gunfire here. Zilch is not in the back room, and the bartender says that he left with Johnny-boy almost an hour ago, after getting a call from him. More questions arise. Where is Zilch? Was his exit with John willing or coerced? Who shot up John’s apartment? Who mercilessly killed the Wilson’s and grabbed Cooper? what is the story with John? Who is has enough clout able to pull Lonestar off multiple AAA-security zones? What is with the disappearing-reappearing-disappearing Zilch? Why is Zilch, with quite an education, evidently back from the dead, slumming in Renton selling drugs to scumbags? Why has no one seemed to notice that he isn’t dead anymore? Who is [[CoopCrimson Shadower Ramirez | Cooper]], and why was he really kidnapped? It’s going to be a long night.
Well, we sit here looking kind of deflated. Not only do we not have a kid, we not have no apparent father to him deliver to. Rook suggeststhe idea to pop the maglock to Zilch’s office, but we do not assume that it would be unnoticed. Red perks up and says, “I got it.” Within moments, she is turning all heads, including ours as she ‘dances’ on a table near the counter. At this moment, I suspect that we would have used a battering ram on the door, and the patrons would have been oblivious. Once Rook opens the door, him and I enter in and check the room out. Inside, it looks like their may have been a fracas. Zilch’s chair is spun away from his desk, and there is a crack in the wall behind him as if someone was slammed into the wall. A quick search of the desk reveals nothing except a hastily written Stick’Em ® note with ‘227.3 mhz’ scribbled on it lying on the floor near the desk. Maybe Zilch had an opportunity to leave us this. We exit, along with Red, much to the dissatisfaction of her fervent fans and head to the van.
Once in the van, our technerd community speculates that this is an ‘old’ frequency – not one used much in more modern technologies, rather something used 50 years ago. They hope that it is related to some transmitter, perhaps one that Zilch may be carrying. Red tears into her ever present gadget bag and manages to tie it into a signal locater. With this, she believes that we will be able to detect it’s transmissions . Unfortunately, the range is only good for a few klicks – meaning we’d have to damn near be on top of him to be withing range. Red continues to say that she has just the right signal amplifier at the Clubhouse. Since this is the best lead we have, we head over to the Clubhouse for the amplifier. An hour of ‘just a few more minutes’ later, she has successfully managed to boost the signal tenfold, nearly 9 klicks. So decide to buzz by the ‘hot’ sites, and see if we can pick up a signal. Soon, we have a ping, from Redmond, moving at road speed north.
Along the way, Chips calls back and tells us that he was able to salvage footage from a backup at Zilch’s house. He feeds me the data, and I see a Mitsubishi Nightsky approach the gate, and am unidentified large man get out of the passenger side and enter in a code at the gate. Once at the house, this man along with 5 elves, armed full-on with milspec assault rifles, who move with the fluid precision of an experienced military unit, enter the house, again by a code punched in by the tall man. Once inside, they quickly sweep the area, discover the note left by Cooper, and enter the security room, and attempt to destroy the footage we are now watching. Once they exit, the shut the door and then shoot it open, to make it appear as it as forcefully broken into, rather than opened by someone who knew the proper passcode. They repeat this step at the front gate, and then leave. I ask Chips to run the plates on their car, and he says that he’ll get right on it.
We are passing through Redmond and, as usual, Drake is opting to ignore the GPS, cause he is way smarter than it, apparently. His comment that he knows a shortcut, is immediately followed by ‘oh boy’, as he turns a blind corner into hell. In front of us is a bus, with around a dozen Spider gangers, our rear is immediately cut off by three cars, who pull in behind us, with probably another half-dozen goons. Drek. Rook, showing a moment of stones now that Lonestar does not seem to be dropping in to help us, leave the van and approaches the crew at the bus. He asks the apparent leader what he wants, and he wants recruits. Hmm, unlikely. We’d also have to pass their ‘initiation’. I’ve heard stories of initiation rights with gangs, and it sounds like something I’d pass on. Rook then tries to diffuse the situation with some nuyen, but they scoff at that. Really? I call Zany and do not get any good advice from her on how to deal with these idiots, just that they are one of the largest gangs, and it would be best to avoid them. Great. Well, screw them. We tried to parlay, we tried to pay them off, but they seem content to force our hand. We don’t have time for this song-and-dance pissing contest here. We need to show our hand, and hard. Rook dives into a doorway as Drake’s robo-lover and I lob some fragmentation grenades at them. The are untrained street thugs and do not react quickly to it. The ensuing explosions renders much of them into chunky paste. Our small arms fire, sends a few more to the grave, while the remaining few turn and scatter. We tried to avoid this, but they wouldn’t cooperate. They may have bit off more than they could chew. Maybe they’ll reconsider next time. The explosions have rendered the cars behind is into immovable slag, but we manage to push the bus back enough down the alley for us to be able to squeeze the van through and move on.
Continuing on, Drake plots a course for intercept with the tracking signal. Chips calls back at nearly 24:00 and says that the sedan that we saw at Zilch’s has government registered plates associated with Tir Tangere. What? What do they want, and what in the hell are we getting in to? Man, this keeps getting better and better. We soon we arrive on the outskirts of civilization proper, in northern Redmond. The signal had recently stopped and our last heading shows it within an area of a few square klicks of collective fields, back roads and rural homes. Using the imaging provided by the GPS, I try to direct us towards the last known location, but Drake’s inability to communicate with the living results in that he snarfs my directions and gets us lost and eventually stuck out in a large arena-sized field. Dwarves, huh? Rook directs us towards a larger concentration of homes, and we see one with lights on, strangely enough, at nearly 02:00. We check the garage, and see that there is a crappy truck in there, fitting the description of Johnathan’s jalopy. We sneak to the house and peer inside. There is nothing here. A single light shines from a table in what must have been a kitchen many years ago. The rest of the house has been unoccupied for quite some time. The neighboring field shows indication of a helo landed here within the last few hours. Drek. We missed them, and now they could be anywhere. And we don’t even know who we were tracking here. We are at a wall, so we agree to call it a night, and pursue this first thing tomorrow morning.
Then next morning, we collectively pool our resources and see what in the hell is going on. We now have Elven SpecOps teams, missing kids and adults, mysteries around John and Zilch, and who knows what else. While the information we glean is noting concrete, but it could explain the mysteries surrounding us here. Stay with me here, this is just a summary of what we found, and some theories that could explain the snafu we are currently hip-deep in. Now, it is public knowledge that the king of Tir Tangire is dying. He has three sons, the eldest one, Eavis, was a bit of a carnal dilettante, meaning had bedded pretty much anything he could catch, recently died while hunting. Since he has no sons, at least legitimately, the next in line is his younger brother, Reagir, who is evidently quite the unlikable fellow. There was some mention of a murder that he was involved in a few years ago, but his dad didn’t deport him for it, even though they haven’t been seeing eye to eye. He has been forced to stay in the Tir, for fear of the charges against him. The youngest son, Faethrani, appears to be the most likable. Evidently, Reagir has been pouring nuyen into finding any and all illegitimate offspring of Eavis, and probably killing them off. Just your normal medieval-era storybook family fight for the throne. Now, here is where things get confusing. Zilch and Johnathan seem to be from out east, New York and/or Boston it seems, where he has apparently believed to have died a few times. A few years ago, they came to Seattle, and he has an elven teenager with him, who does not appear to be his son. I remember hearing that several years ago, Eavis had been engaged to some woman, Jodi Neyvasa from out east, and had her knocked up when she discovered his less-than-occasional indigressions, promptly leaving him, to never be seen again. Their child would be in his teens now, but no one seems to know what happened to him. Could Cooper actually be one of Eavis’ bastard children, and therefore possible heir to the Tir Tangere throne? That could explain why no one knows who he is, and why a Tir SpecOps team is tearing apart Seattle looking for him. If this was under the orders or Raegar, it could easily explain who has the power to control LoneStar. It doesn’t explain how, the elven heir, if that is who he really is, had been slumming in Seattle with the drug dealer, Zilch. Suspicions are increased when word on the street is that Johnny-boy was pulling night shift duties for someone from the Tir. Maybe he flipped on Zilch, turning Cooper over to his uncle. We still don’t know who shot up John’s apartment, for the SpecOps team and John appeared to have been working together. It was small arms ammo that fired in, and and higher caliber firing out, in the range of the caliber that shot out of his apartment, as well as into the Wilson’s residence. Maybe someone is hunting them as well? I do not like this mysterious new player here. They seemed to be attacking Johnny-boy and/or the Elves, which may not make them an enemy, although not necessarily a friend. Could Zilch be hiding this secret heir to the throne, it could explain why he keeps ‘dying’, only to pop up somewhere else later. Mentions of some blackmail that some company, Omni Dynamix had over Eavis, as well as someone named Jade Eye, some court mage in the Tir, causes Red’s ears to perk up, but she does not elaborate. I know that she has a history with Omni, but I trust that if it was relevant to the issue at hand, she’d pipe up about it. Otherwise, I don’t care at the moment. In the midst of all this talk, I suddenly remember why the name Faethrani sounds so familiar, he lives at Walden Estates! Since he seems to not be a candidate for the throne anytime soon, and has been considered to be a fair guy overall, maybe we should try to have a neighborly chat with him. We don’t have much else to go on, otherwise.