Given that one of our runs is too hot to talk about, and the other was botched due to competition, I suppose I’ll start with our latest run. I got a call from Silver saying that he had a run for our crew if we were interested. We were told we could meet the Mr. Johnson at a club called Matchstick’s downtown. Being the jazz enthusiast I am, I’ve been there on an evening or two. It’s only lucky an elf doesn’t own the place, or they’d be serving carrot juice. Our Mr. Johnson is an elf woman who gives us the usual spiel about how this is a simple snatch and grab. The group exchanges wary looks when she tells us that the run is going down in the Tir. We listen anyway, and she lays out a plan that seems thoroughly planned and well supported. In fact, I’ve never seen nor heard of the group getting so much intel from a Johnson before. When she satisfies us all that maybe this will be at least “simpler,” we accept, but with a slightly higher fee given that we’re crossing borders and walking into unfriendly territory for us.
The plan involves us all receiving fake ID’s and travelling as landscaping consultants. She writes down an inventory list of everything we think we’ll need for the mission and promises it’ll be delivered once we’re in-country. Just to be on the safe side, we spend the following day tracking down what information we can on our Ms. Johnson. We eventually track down that her streetname is “Banshee.” Seems she used to be a runner herself, but may have retired to the middleman biz. She also seems to have been a singer for some band, although she must not have made enough noise to have recorded anything. We get back to studying the plan, which involves grabbing some intel from a Universal Omnitech facility, and destroying their research lab.
Whoever our corporate sponsor was behind Banshee, they certainly had some pull. We had our fake ID’s and plane tickets in hand the following day. That indicates a whole team of drek-hot hackers slipping background information into key places and what not. We packed our bags and headed for the airport and Tir Tairngire. Security on our side of the plane ride wasn’t terribly noteworthy. When we landed, however, customs pulled Doc and I aside at the luggage carousel. It seems that they do not allow combat fetishes nor armor of any kind. I don’t know what spells Doc keeps on his fetishes that got him tagged, but I was fairly taken aback that they would bother with the armor I brought. These were my every day wear, and frankly the clothing of most corporate types in the ‘Plex. I managed to cajole the customs agent to let me keep my Auctioneer clothing, but they insisted on holding onto the form fitting armor. These elves must keep their back to the wall everywhere they go if they don’t allow armor.
That done, we debated going to the motel that Pariah had thoughtfully booked as a back-up if things went south, but we decided things hadn’t gone wrong yet. We headed to the Rose Branch Inn that had been booked for us by our sponsor. I’m not sure why we had to be here days in advance of the run, but here we were early in the week and stuck waiting for the weekend. Over a dinner at a nearby Elven restaurant, we discussed our next move. With so much time on our hands, we decided to find out more about Banshee, as our trail of information led here. With her having made the move to the corporate world, we went to a hot spot frequented by corporate types where I asked around for anyone who knew her. When that didn’t help, we tried a hangout for medical types since our target was some biotech research – still nothing. Next, we headed towards the slums in search of anyone who knew her from her shadowrun days.
We checked around but came up empty on Banshee. Pariah and Red were getting the shakes from having gone cold turkey with guns, however. While we were talking to some gangers Pariah noted that they were carrying and asked if they could hook us up. They pointed us towards an alley where they had an orc fixer. The fixer showed off an array of handguns that had seen better days, all stolen and untraceable. Pariah couldn’t care less about the corrosion as long as the bullet left the barrel when he pulled the trigger. I haggled down a fair price and we scooped up several pistols. We also got a lead on where to find a gang of mages that might be able to point us in the direction of Bansee.
Down another alley where these mages were supposed to be holed up, Doc stopped to talk to a squatter that had made himself at home between a couple of dumpsters. This guy seemed to be who we were looking for, and after he determined that we weren’t out to cause her harm he told us where to find her. Finally we hit pay dirt and discovered that she frequented a place called “Ivanhoe’s.” It would’ve been bad etiquette to drop in on our Ms. Johnson at her home, however. We decided to celebrate our victory by going back to the inn and crashing. On the way, we stopped by a quicky-mart where I picked up some tools to clean up the pistols. Once I had them all back in good working order, we shared them out, with Pariah, Red, and Drake each taking one. I took the worst of the lot just to humor them, but I alone (well, except Doc who has no use for them) seemed content not to be packing.
Finally the night before the mission was to take place, a couple of Orcs knocked on Red’s door, lugging a couple of travel-boxes. She called us all to her room, where the Orcs unpacked our gifts. We didn’t get everything we had requested, but it was all shiney new gear. They also gave us our landscaper disguises and a bullpup work van with the “Green Sleeves” logo. Recognizing that we were fish out of water in the Tir, Eddy and Zach, the two orcs, offered us their services as fixers if we needed anything more. After they left, we set about checking over the gear to make sure that everything was in working order. Pariah had an epiphany as we were cleaning up, noting that everything we had received was manufactured by Saeder-Krupp or one of its subsidiaries. Maybe now we knew who our sponsor was.
Dark and early, we headed out for the Omnitech facility. We arrived promptly at 0600 and made our way through their security, passing ourselves off as humble gardners in our Green Sleeves coveralls and caps. We took a service elevator up to the fifth floor, where we were supposed to care for the terrace gardens. Having studied the floor plan in advance, we headed straight to a supply closet set aside for the landscaping, ostensably to gather gardening tools. Inside, Pariah discovered that it contained all of the ingredients necessary to make a “fertilizer bomb,” and suggested we could use it to sabotage the research lab. The only problem was that making the bomb would take several hours, which seemed a long time to loiter. Accepting that Pariah saw this as necessary, however, we decided to go about gardening until the time was right.
It wasn’t long until Doc spotted an air elemental patrolling the floors of the building. We had already spotted the cameras on the floor, and knew to avoid them, but this was a new wrinkle. Doc decided to slip into the astral and try to give us some intel on who else might be on the floor, and any additional magical security. He planned to do this in a bathroom stall, but when he reached what was supposed to be the Men’s room according to our map, it turned out to be a stairwell. This was starting to look like the mission we expected, afterall.
Drake and I set about verifying the location of the research lab and the rooms where we thought the biotech data could be stored. I’m wary of opening any doors with the passkey Banshee gave us, as she warned that it might be of limited use. We lodge open the terrace doors so that we can use them to circle the building without passing in front of security cameras. A couple of close calls with employees later, we have verified the location of the server room and the research lab. The ding of the elevator warns of yet another suit bucking for promotion by working an early Saturday, and Drake and I decide it’s time to rejoin our comrades on the terrace to water the plants. Our best plan is to wait until Pariah says the bomb is ready, then grab the data and hightail it out of there.
We walk by the closet where Pariah is making his bomb, and I can’t help but notice the wreak of chemicals. Luckily the terrace door is just beyond, and I step outside into the fresh air. I kick in my throat mic to warn Pariah that the smell might tip off a curious employee, but he cuts me off by exclaiming “oh drek!” An authoritative voice can be heard, both through the doorway and over the radio saying, “turn around, hands on your head!” I swing around and step back through the door to see three armed and armored security guards. Two are in the hallway, and one is busy putting restraints on Pariah. Of the two in the hallway, only one of them has a taser pointed at me as I come through the door. He’s got the drop on me, but I kick in the speed in hopes of beating him to the trigger. I’m calculating my angle of approach so that I can disarm the two in the hallway in one smooth motion that will bring me up behind the guy on Pariah when the lights go out.
Red’s already peeling the back off of a second slap patch when I grab her wrist and stop her, “I’m awake,” I shout. The chems in the stim patch are burning my nose and making my eyes water, and I pull it off, along with a bit of chest hair. I see the three guards are messily dead. This all took place right before one of the security cameras, and none of us doubt that we are out of time. We strip the corpses of weapons and go into emergency mode – where we seem to do our best work. I roll smoke grenades down the halls to hide us from the security cameras. Red races for the network closet to grab the data unit we need. Pariah and Drake brake into the research lab where they pile anything valuable into the center of the room and rig some grenades to scatter it once we’re gone. I tie off a rope so that we can repel down the side of the building and escape in the van. Just as everyone is returning to the terrace entrance, the ding of the elevator announces company. I lob a grenade down the hall and into the elevator lobby to slow them down, and we vault over the side of the terrace.
We reach the third floor when Doc suddenly gets smacked by a blast of magic from an elemental. A hurried exchange of magic lasting a few seconds leaves Doc looking pretty bad off. I scoop him up over my shoulder and swing out over the side with the rope. We run to the van and pour in. Drake blasts through the security checkpoint, leaving the guard rail lodged in our front grill like a handlebar mustache. Gunfire ripples through the van, with Pariah firing back through the front window. Another burst of gunfire takes out our back window, and then we’re around a corner and out of sight.
Knowing that we’re hardly out of the woods, Drake starts looking for a new ride. I guess we were so busy looking at parked cars that we didn’t see the police cruiser come racing up behind us until they flipped on their lights and siren. Our reply is a hail of bullets – their tires, their engine, the windshield, all explode. The driver takes a burst across his chest, and I lob my last smoke grenade through their missing windshield for good measure. Drake makes a few more turns and finally slips into an underground parking lot, where all went quiet until the guard rail popped from the grill and rang echoingly on the plasticrete floor.
A phone call to Eddy and Zach arranged for them to deliver a non-descript car to us. Doc used the time to try and patch us up after the fiasco at the Omnitech facility. With the police out looking for us, we decided to have Doc walk back to the motel invisibly with the data unit, while we drove on ahead in the car that the Orcs brought. We got back together at the hotel and called Banshee to let her know that we had recovered the data. She met us at a park that we had pre-arranged, and the handover went smoothly. She paid us in full and we returned to the inn to await our flight back the following day. It wasn’t too long after we had settled in that Red let out a scream that drew all of our attention to the vidlink she was watching. There were our photos plastered on the screen with the local anchor going on about how we were corporate saboteurs working for Saeder-Krupp, and wanted for the attack on Omnitech. Somebody had set us up. The report ended with the fact that the police were following up on credible leads and expected to have the criminals in hand shortly. As that filtered through our brains, Red suddenly turned to the window, and we saw what she saw – red and blue lighting up the closed curtains from outside. We bailed from the inn quickly, all of us having had our go bags ready. We managed to sneak out before they could set up any kind of perimeter, and the echo of tinkling glass and flashbangs was the last we heard as we slipped into the night.
Our best bet seemed to be to go after Banshee. We knew where she hung out, and if she didn’t hang us out to dry maybe she could help arrange some alternate means of getting out of the country. If she was behind the setup, maybe we could still find some means of extracting some assistance from her. Doc was still pretty messed up from his fight with the air elemental, so we all agreed with him when he said he should stay behind in our back-up motel. We hopped a cab over to Ivanhoe’s and found the seedy little motel back in the slums where we’d been earlier in the week. As we stepped towards the door, and a rather large troll bouncer, Banshee stepped out from within. We all stopped and looked at one another in surprise for a moment, before Banshee folded her arms and started to ask what we were doing here. A red laser dot lit up her forehead, however, and Pariah instantly dove at her to drag her out of the line of fire. They crashed in a heap on the ground in front of the doorway as a bullet bored into the door above them. We looked around in time to see a guy in security armor and an assault rifle stepping out from a car with chameleon paint. He wasn’t the one who fired, however, meaning that we were in a crossfire.
Seeing that we were pinned down if we tried to stay here, I sped for the safety of the motel. Once inside, I could at least make this a close-quarter fight where I could even the odds a bit. The troll bouncer would have none of it, however, and barked out, “keep it outside!” as he swung a massive paw at my chest. Only a troll would think it was more important to do his shit bouncer job than respond to guys firing heavy weapons at him. I brought an arm up of my own to block the blow, but I only managed to turn the angle enough to make it a glancing one – and that was enough to take me off my feet and drop me to the pavement. Red apparently spotted the sniper, as she brings up her assault rifle and I see a tracer from her burst whiz down the alleyway across the street. Drake opened fire on the guy in the parking lot, but the guy’s security armor seemed to take the punishment. The guy was so confident, in fact, that he ignored Drake and laid into Red instead. Caught out in the open, looking down the alley, the rounds slammed into her and knocked her off the curb and into the street.
Banshee surged to her feet and cast a spell – I don’t think any of us knew she was a caster to that point. Suddenly a bunch more men in security armor and assault weapons shimmered into view in the parking lot; and one more behind us at the other end of the motel. Drek, this was bad. Pariah pulled himself back up and gave some fire support to Drake, emptying a couple quick bursts into the same guy; who dropped. I was feeling pretty comfortable on the ground where I lay, so I pulled the pin on an offensive grenade and sent it rolling into the middle of the parking lot between them all. Bullets tore around us as they opened up at Drake and Pariah, mostly. Drake took the brunt of it, and he went down with a heavy “oomph!” Suddenly a blue curtain of light sprang up around us, as Banshee threw her hands out in front of her. The bullets stopped tearing chips of ferrocrete out of the wall behind us and lit up the magic barrier, instead.
The ambush team tried to make a dash away from my grenade, but didn’t get very far before it went off with a “whack!” The closest to it pitched forward, but everyone kept their feet. They kept up the fire on us, and I could see that it was taking a toll on Banshee who was trying to maintain it. Pariah and I were on pause inside the bubble, not wanting to fire out and further weaken her shield. A few more seconds of continuous gunfire, and Banshee looked back over her shoulder to say, “Don’t let these fraggers take me!” The blue curtain swept away and a ball of fire erupted from in-between the closest ambushers. They flew apart from one another and skidded to the ground upon landing, smoke pouring from their corpses. Banshee herself just toppled over and fell to the ground in a limp pile. Pariah dumped another couple of bursts into the two following behind them, but only one dropped. The other returned fire and now Pariah was down.
I let out a scream as I burst back towards the guy stationed behind us. Like déjà vu, I was once again hoping I could cover the ground before someone pulled the trigger. Two meters from the guy, I did a slide feet first. I did a scissors kick to the side of his leg as I came up underneath him. At the same time, I drove my other foot into his boot and used it as leverage to flip myself up. My opponent’s knee buckled and he somersaulted onto his back with a crack. He fired off a spray of panic fire that I managed to step away from. Using the speed and power of my krav maga, I hit him with a flurry of punches in an attack that was meant to be fatal. His armor took everything I could throw at him, however, and suddenly I felt the punch of his weapon as he lit into me with a burst. More rounds slammed into my back from the parking lot behind me, and all went black.
I came to in a dingy basement that wreaked of mildew. A nurse with a mask over her face blinded me with a light as she checked my eye response, before moving on to one of the other DV8’s. We found ourselves laid out on some makeshift surgical tables cobbled together from old doors and palettes. Seeing that we were back among the living, the nurses called for the surgeon to return. A big troll made his way down the stairs to come into view. This guy called himself “Dog” and let us know that he’d saved us after the fire fight. As we started to pour out our relief and gratitude, however, he cut us off to tell us that he’d taken the liberty of sticking cortex bombs in our heads while he was at it. That shut us up right quick, and he went on to explain that if we wanted them removed we’d have to kill a rival crime boss named “Cat.” We couldn’t help but agree to his terms.
We also saw that Banshee wasn’t among us. We still didn’t know what part she’d played in setting us up, but she seemed to have people gunning for her, as well. She’d also done her best to help us out in the ambush. We asked Dog about her, and he let slip the name “Moire” as he explained that she’d been taken care of, as well, but she had friends that had seen to her. He wasn’t interested in explaining where she’d gone beyond that.
I was having flashbacks to the last time I had a cortex bomb shoved into my noggin. In fact, whatever he’d stuck in our heads had a distinctly different feel to it than the last bomb. Once he’d left the basement, and despite his warnings that the bomb would go off if we tampered with it, I did some gentle poking and prodding of the incision area. Despite the sizzling pain that made its way through the pain meds the nurses had pumped into us, I didn’t feel anything like a bomb back there. Instead, the lump felt rather soft and squishy. We gathered our gear and dragged ourselves back to the motel where Doc was. Quite a few hours had passed since we’d left, but he didn’t seem to have been all that concerned given the bored tone he answered the phone with. We let him know that we were inbound and some of what happened.
Once there, Doc was quick to use his magic to try and improve our condition further. He was able to help us out enough that we all felt mission-capable. Having a magician around that can bring someone back from death’s door is something I recommend to everyone. While he was at it, I asked him to take a peek at my cortex bomb. I warned him of the dangers that Dog had indicated – particularly that he said it would go off if it was tampered with magically. Doc seemed pretty skeptical about such a thing, but took the precaution of sitting across the room from me before he used his second sight. Sure enough, he determined that the “device” was some sort of non-lethal organic compound that had been injected into the space as a trick. He took a little time and managed to remove the material altogether. I was rubbing my head over the place where the lump had used to be, and enjoying that the dull ache it had created was gone when I heard him tell Pariah, “I got it out, but you’ll have a lump there for a few days until the swelling goes down.” I feel for him, and am glad that my bioware must’ve went to work on mine right away.
Seeing as we were no longer under the threat of imminent death, we opted to ignore the assassination mission and instead seek out Banshee again. We returned to Ivanhoe’s, where we found the troll bouncer leaning against the wall outside the entrance with the same lack of interest in us he’d displayed the last time we approached. As we stepped past him, he favored me with a look as he rolled his right shoulder as if he was loosening up before taking another swing. He gave me a mocking grin, and I gave him the finger. Inside, we found the bartender who asked us what we’d like to drink. I cut right to the chase and asked if he could tell us where Moire was. He gave me a nervous look and turned his attention to the rest of the crew, who offered up their drink orders one at a time. When he turned back to me, he found me tapping a credstick on the bar top. He looked over to the slot for it, and I plugged in a thousand nuyen. I let him know that we weren’t out to harm her, but were friends. He nodded once and told us she was in room eleven.
We ventured down the corridor to room eleven and rapped on the door. We talked our way inside and managed to get her to fill us in on what was going on. It turns out that she’d been hired by Telestrian Biotech to set us up. She did her job well, and everything went according to plan, it seems. She didn’t expect that they would try to clean up the remaining evidence of their plan by taking her out, however. Seeing as how she’d been burned along with the rest of us, I asked if she’d be willing to help us get out of the country now. She said we should talk to a friend of hers named Dog. When we told her that side of the story, she relented and said that she’d talk to him, instead. When she returned, she let us know that he was arranging things to get us all smuggled back to Seattle.
We stayed low in rooms at Ivanhoe’s for the next few days while everything was arranged. In the end, we were smuggled inside a shipping container aboard a ship heading up the coast from Portland to Seattle. It was a miserable few days in a box with little fresh air and no privacy. It should have been a relief when we were finally freed from the container in Seattle’s port, but there was one more bit of bad news. Red had been stricken by a disease she’d picked up on the botched run we’d tried before all of this, and the fragger responsible for it was waiting for us. He offered that he was the only one who could cure her, and we had no choice but to let him take her. She had collapsed into a coma halfway through our journey back here, and it was all Doc could do to keep her alive.
I had a car pick us up and deliver us to the DV8’s headquarters. Banshee we cut loose to find her own way, but she exchanged contact info with us before we split up. Back at the HQ, I used one of their showers to get cleaned up, and Pariah was kind enough to lend me a pair of trousers and a tee to wear, since my own clothes were soiled from the week-long stay in the box. When I got home, I collapsed into the bed of the nearest guest room rather than bother making the trip all the way down the hall to my own bedroom. Come the morning, I called Silver to ask him for a favor. He was happy to know I was back in town, and let me know that he had another job for me if I was interested. I guess it couldn’t hurt, given the cost of what I’d called about, so I let him fill me in with some details before I called in the rest of the team.