Double Take Events
It’s Friday night and you’re relaxing in your doss when a priority message comes over your telecom. It’s a formal invitation, forwarded by your fixer, to come to Matchstick’s tonight to discuss business. The closing line instructs you to “tell Carl that the password is swordfish.” You think you heard something like that on an old trid show once, but right now you can’t place it. Sounds intriguing, though, so you decide to go see what this is all about.
When you arrive at Matchstick’s, you see a small but growing line of people waiting to get inside. Here and there in the line you spot a few chummers you’ve worked with in the past, or that you recognize from other runner haunts. When you reach the door, a troll bouncer and a snappy human in a zoot suit block your entrance. You tell them you’re here to speak to Carl. The human nods and asks for the password. You give the one from the invitation, and he escorts you inside.
The club is smoky and dim, and reminds you of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Jazz piano tinkles in the background, accompanied by a haunting female voice. You barely have time to take it all in before your escort shows you to a private back room. As the door closes behind you, you spy an elven woman sitting in the corner of the room furthest from the door.
“Thank you for coming,” she says, her voice low but crisp. She motions toward the chairs and waits patiently for everyone to sit. Her clothes are as much at odds with her classy air as they are with the club itself. She wears snug synthleather pants and matching boots with a sleeveless zippered vest, giving her a menacing street look that matches your own.
You may call me Johnson, of course, and please don’t waste our time by asking for background details beyond that. I have a lucrative bit of biz you might enjoy; it entails a trip into Tir Tairngire, which I can help to arrange. Your job is to hit a Universal Omnitech facility there and steal some data from their system as well as sabotage a laboratory. The pay is a total of 100,000 nuyen; you decide how to divide it among yourselves. I can give you up to a third up front. Before I go into more detail, I need your answer: yes or no?
The Runners agree to take the Job and “Mr. Johnson” continues.
“Excellent. I can get you into Tir Tairngire with visas and the like, but you’ll still need to be careful. Tir Customs can be touchy, so I advise against jokes about the purpose of your visit. You’ll be flying into Portland under the guise of legitimate business, so unfortunately most of your gear will have to stay home. I can arrange what you‘ll need to get the job done: weapons, armor, tech and a cyberdeck.
“You’ll be stealing the project logs and related materials pertaining to the mapping of metahuman genes, specifically the data concerning the origins of magical ability. Universal Omnitech’s system is difficult to crack, but you should find it relatively easy to access the datastore directly from the lab and download the files with what I give you.
“The best way I know of to gain entrance to their offices is to pose as gardeners from the company they use. The gardeners show up every Saturday afternoon to take care of the gardens that encircle each floor.” She cracks a brief smile. “The floor you’ll be pruning is the fifth. Hardly anyone will be there on a weekend, but you might encounter a few employees logging in some overtime. Things could get difficult if you do; I suggest caution. I can give you a map, gardening uniforms and gear, and other essential equipment. They’ll be delivered at your hotel rooms once you get to Portland. The run absolutely has to go off next Saturday morning. Once it’s over, meet me in Pioneer Courthouse Square in the middle of downtown Portland. I can give you the rest of your pay then.”
She advises the party to upload Visa quality photos and complete medical records including cyberware to a matrix address that she provides. Tuesday, a package arrives that includes certified credsticks for each party member that among numerous other useful details includes a weapons permit to carry a Walther PB-120 pistol. Round trip airline tickets departing Thursday and returning Sunday, and a hotel reservation at the Rose Branch Inn for Thursday night through Sunday morning are also in the package.
Airports are always boiling over with cranky people hurrying to get somewhere other than where they’re at, and now you’re one of them. You work your way through the noisy crowds to the Cinanestial ticket counter, where a male elf in a dark green, silver and white uniform awaits the next customer with a polite expression on his face. Soon it’s your turn.
“I need your passport, a copy of your medical records including up-to-date vaccinations, your Visitor’s Authorization Visa and your round-trip ticket to and from Tir Tairngire, please.” He says it all politely enough, if a touch briskly. A discreet look at the other elf behind the counter—a buff one who looks like he eats your type for breakfast—gives you the feeling that the politeness is for show.
“You will be asked to present these documents once more, and also to submit to a blood test by the Customs and Immigration officers, when you arrive,” Mr. Charm goes on. “Should you fail to comply, you will be escorted out of the country. Any cyberimplants, with the exception of limbs needed for mobility or other life-sustaining devices, will be deactivated. Illegal reactivation carries a heavy penalty and also warrants immediate deportation.” You nod your head, amazed that he managed to recite that litany in a single breath.
Next, he launches into the standard airport anti-terrorist spiel. “Will you be checking any luggage? Did you pack your own bags?” As you answer, you can’t help but look forward to the actual customs screening you’ll receive when you arrive there … .
Eventually the runners arrive in Portland
The flight from Seattle to Morningstar Field in Portland is short and bumpy, leaving you with that slightly disoriented feeling common to air travel. As you wait your turn in line to see the Customs and Immigration officers, you notice quite a few deadly-looking elves with equally deadly-looking weapons close at hand. Not a welcoming sight. After what seems like hours, you’re finally standing in front of the customs officer. He makes no pretense at politeness. “State the purpose of your visit,” he says curtly. He gestures brusquely for your documents while readying the equipment for the blood test. As he looks over your VAV, you pray it holds up to his scrutiny. “Lucky you, you get to keep your cyberware,” he mutters, reading something apparently noted in your VAV. Lucky, indeed. Looks like you’ve got a friend in high places—or at least a friend with contacts in high places.
Doc and Rook have some problems with their checked bags but eventually get the problem resolved and are able to continue on the mission minus a few items that they were hoping to use.
The runners arrive at the hotel
By the time you finally leave the airport, the sun is setting. Orange and red light gleams across downtown Portland, which looks pretty similar to other well-maintained downtown sprawls, if a bit more scenic. The city does seem to have more trees than most, covering the many parks and every other space available.
Your reservations are at the Rose Branch Inn, smack in the middle of downtown. You’re a little uncomfortable at being in the heart of “elf territory,” especially as the whole country runs on a weird caste system. Judging by the attitude you get from the bellhops, you can guess where visitors like you fall on the social scale. You don’t have to endure it for long, though; check-in goes quickly, and soon you’re all left alone in your rooms. You’ve got a day and a half before the run; all you have to do is wait for Ms. Johnson’s delivery to arrive.
The Party goes out Thursday evening having an authentic Elven dinner at a nice establishment near the hotel and then, with the exception of Red they travel into the much seedier areas of Portland. The group manages to round up a little bit of information about their “Mr. Johnson” who as it turns out is probably named Banshee. They also score a small cache of pistols, specifically a pair of Ares Predators, one of which does not appear to be functional, a Remington Roomsweeper, and a Browning Max-Power. All of the weapons have seen better days but Rook has confidence that he can get them up and running.
A very long and impatient wait later
It’s Friday night, the run’s tomorrow and your gear still hasn’t shown up. You’re about ready to go nuts with a meat cleaver when you hear a knock at the door. You answer it. Two orks, male and average-looking for their metatype, stroll into the room and throw a suitcase on the bed.
“Merry Christmas,” the scruffier one says, with a smirking salute. “Miz Johnson sends her regards, and sez you’ll find everything you need in the van, currently charging in Lot C–13.” He rattles off the van’s doorlock code, scanning your group as he does so. Then he leans forward and whispers, “Off the record, if there’s anything else you’re looking for while you’re visiting our wonderful metropolis, drop me and Zach here a line. We’re experienced with Portland’s ins and outs, if you know what I mean.” He passes you a business card that reads: Eddy and Zach, specialists” with a telecom code. Then he winks and the pair heads for the door.
Looking through the equipment in the suitcase and in the van the party finds:
Leyland-Rover Transport (Electric, enclosed-box) QTY: 1
Renraku Kraftwerk–8 Cyberdeck QTY: 1
Walther PB-120 QTY: 5
Walther MA-2100 QTY: 1
S-K PPS Protector QTY: 1
Steyr AUG-CSL QTY: 2
Securetech Armor Jacket QTY: 5
Grenade IPE offensive QTY: 6
SAVIOR™ ADVANCED MEDKIT QTY: 2
Maglock Passkey Rating 6 QTY: 1
Saeder-Krupp PCU I(b) Communications Set Rating 4 QTY: 5
Electronics Tool Kit QTY 1
Antidote Patch Rating 5 QTY: 5
Stimulant Patch Rating 5 QTY: 5
Tranq Patch Rating 5 QTY: 5
Trauma Patch QTY: 5
The day of the run
Saturday mornings used to mean eating a bowl of Sweeti-Popz in front of the trideo and watching your favorite cartoons. Now you’re doing the kinds of things you used to watch. Around you, your team is loading weapons, preparing gear and suiting up as a gardening crew. You mentally brush up your few horticultural skills, then give it up and hope the guards will have better things to do than ask gardening questions or harass you …
The runners arrive at Universal Omnitech Portland
With your Green Sleeves uniforms over your usual togs and carrying bags filled with “gardening tools,” you look like one tough gardening crew. Crossing your fingers, you steer the van up to the gatehouse and roll down the window. A mirrored window on the gatehouse slides open. The bored-looking guard manages to pull his eyes away from the replay of last week’s hurling match long enough to glance at a clipboard.
“What floor you on today?”
“Fifth,” you answer calmly.
“Use Dock Two in back,” he says, then waves you on. As he slides his window shut, the gate bar rises. Grinning at your luck, you drive around back and into Dock Two’s open parking bay. You unload your gardening tools in the spacious service elevator, mindful of the watching vidcams. You reach the fifth floor less than a minute later. Exiting the elevator, you look to either side of you. You see a long corridor with one glass wall. On the other side, lush gardens grow on the “roof.” The place looks like a giant’s terrarium. A quick map check tells you where the lab should be …
Red and Doc head for the outdoor gardens while the others look around. Pariah finds some materials in the gardening equipment room that makes him break out into an evil grin as he starts mixing things together in what looks like a long project. Rook and Drake thoroughly scout out the floor and eventually find two rooms that they are fairly certain are the mission rooms. Using their Maglock Passkey they find the research lab and a network room that looks like it contains the Data Store that they are going to need.
A couple of close calls as employees earning some overtime wander through later the party are satisfied with their knowledge of the area and are preparing to return to the “work” they are supposed to be doing as gardeners while Pariah continues his work on what he calls a “Drek Bomb”. Suddenly Pariah is greeted by one of his least favorite sounds, that of the safety being turned off on an … according to his very practiced ear… HK227 Submachinegun. Well actually it is a sound that he likes very much, but not when it happens behind him.
“Put your hands behind your back and don’t even think of moving!” Pariah, elbow deep in bomb materials knows that the jig is up. Without even looking over his shoulder, he puts his hands behind him, the unpleasant sensation of flex cuffs zipping closed around his wrists immediately follows. He mutters into his microphone that he is in trouble and Rook peeks through the door. Rook is greeted by the unpleasant view of a taser pointed between his eyes. He can see that three elves in security armor are between him and Pariah. One is clearly distracted taking care of Pariah while the other two are watching the hallway…
Pariah manages to slip the flex cuffs off a moment before they click shut. Rook takes a couple taser shots to the chest and is on the ground twitching when the security guard cuffs him. The rest of the team is in action and after only a few moments of combat, the three security guards are dead. The team realizes that more security is on the way and they quickly split up, Rook Pariah and Drake frag the lab while Red steals the data cache. They repel down to the first floor while Doc fights off a patrolling air elemental. They hop into the van and smash their way through the security at the gate. A Peace Force patrol car pursues them for a short while until the driver is killed and the car rolls to a stop. Quickly as possible, Drake gets the van concealed in a parking garage and the team calls Eddy and Zach to get them a new set of wheels. Eddy and Zach drop them off an older model Ford Americar and the team heads to Pioneer Courthouse Square to meet with Banshee.
Pioneer Courthouse Square covers a full city block in the middle of downtown Portland. On one side of this huge, gorgeous park is a line of free-standing Greek pillars, on the other a waterfall between a coffee shop and the steps to a small amphitheater used for music and theatre performances.
Surrounding it are a plethora of shopping centers, corporate offices and some government buildings. A few elven couples roam about, out for an early evening stroll.
You spot Ms. Johnson seated on the amphitheater steps near the waterfall. As you approach, you see she is dressed more conservatively than when you last met, in denim jeans, a button-down shirt and a synthleather jacket. She notices you and crushes out her cigarette on the steps while glancing around cautiously.
“Good to see you made it. The data, please.”
The data hand-off goes flawlessly and soon the team is heading back to their hotel 90,000¥ richer and in for a relaxing evening while they wait for their flight home tomorrow.
You’re weighing the positives and negatives of lying low in your hotel room all night or heading out and enjoying your last night in the Tir. To avoid the chore of packing, you turn on the trid and flip channels. What you deserve for once is a real vacation. That idea sounds really good to you …
Your daydream comes to a crashing halt as you realize you’re staring yourself in the face. What the … ?
“ … persons wanted for questioning by the Peace Force with regard to this morning’s attack on the offices of Universal Omnitech, a pioneering biotechnology corporation located in Faloma,” the elven anchorman is saying. “TTBC News reporter Kate Mulligan has more on this story. Kate?”
The view switches to another elf reporter, this one standing outside the gate of the Universal Omnitech compound. “Thank you, Ross. Earlier today, a group of people bent on sabotage and espionage ransacked the Universal Omnitech subsidiary offices located behind me. Their apparent target was a research and development laboratory on the fifth floor, though they may have had a larger agenda. The criminals escaped the scene, which normally would make their identities difficult to ascertain. However, just a few hours ago we received an informative tip from an anonymous source, linking the incident to a team of Saeder-Krupp ‘security specialists’ who recently entered the country.” As she continues, passport mug shots of your team appear in the upper left corner of the screen, under the header “Saeder-Krupp Operatives.” “In our own brief investigation, TTBC obtained a set of detailed personnel files from Saeder-Krupp, corroborating the source’s information and confirming the affiliation of these individuals.
“Universal Omnitech declined comment about the attack, but formally stated that they are investigating Saeder-Krupp’s involvement in the matter and may ask the Corporate Court to consider punitive measures. Prince Lofwyr likewise declined comment. Saeder-Krupp representatives have said only that they were ‘surprised and chagrined’ by the accusations. Already this incident has created a stir among government officials; a renewed petition for a no-confidence vote to remove Lofwyr from the Council of Princes is apparently circulating. So far, the Council has yet to address this matter.
“Meanwhile, the Peace Force has several leads on the suspects, whom they believe are still in the country. Officials hope to apprehend them shortly … ”
The story continues, degenerating into speculation by the reporter and the anchor team. A chill descends through your body as nasty questions buzz in your head. Who gave you up? Were you really working for Lofwyr? What the drek do you do now? Even as you grab your gear for a quick exit, you can’t help the last question that comes to mind: how do you avoid a pissed-off dragon?
Only one thing comes immediately to mind, they need to get ahold of Banshee, only she had the amount of information that was just splashed all over the Trid and last they heard she hangs out at a place called Ivanhoe’s Motel.
The team heads there.
You pull into the back parking lot of the Ivanhoe, one of the dingiest motels you’ve ever seen. As you cruise past several lines of parked motorcycles, you eye the small but tough looking crowd of gangers and bikers around them, partying away. Brushing aside your unease, you park and walk toward the bar’s entrance in the rear of the motel’s main building. You size up the troll stationed next to the door. He looks like he’s getting ready to hassle you, when Banshee walks out. You stand there squinting suspiciously at each other for a moment, until she folds her arms and starts to speak. As the first word comes out of her mouth, you notice a bright red dot appear on her forehead … .
Instantly, Pariah dives forward knocking Banshee down as a shot rings out and a hole appears in the door behind where Banshee was just standing. Looking around, a large group of men in security armor are coming out of the shadows. Banshee helps protect the team for a short while with a magical shield and then when it drops she says, “Don’t the the bastards get me”. She blasts three of the enemies with a huge ball of flame, but she passes out as soon as the fireball explodes. The team is widdling the enemies down but Red hits the ground blood oozing from several bullet wounds, soon she is followed by Drake, Pariah, and finally Rook. Perhaps it is good that Doc stayed at another hotel while he was recovering from his magical battle with the elemental? The lights and sounds slowly fades to darkness and silence.
Your senses seem to be awakening one at a time each coming online with the pain of a shotgun to the forehead. First your sense of smell kicks in, old sweat, blood, dirt, mold, the stuffy smell of old basements and fear. Hearing kicks in and moans from those around you compete with the dripping of water and the creak of old wood and construction materials sighing with age. Taste adds the unpleasant flavor of your own blood, bile, and the taste of all those smells you already detected. Your tactile senses kick in and then you do everything in your power to tune them back out as nearly all that you feel is pain. Well it is cold and damp too, and you are laying on something hard. At long last after what feels like hours but actually is less than a second, your vision kicks in. The room is short and cramped and the walls are of stones concreted together. Water drips from the ceiling joists only a few scant feet above your head. Two bare light bulbs illuminate the room dimly and you can see bugs and rodents moving in the corners of the room just beyond the light. You are lying on wooden and metal slabs that are supported by barrels and scraps of wood. A few others are lying on slabs scattered about the room and a pair of women in old hospital scrubs with lights on their headbands and masks over their mouths and noses move about looking at everyone’s injuries. A man in worn scrubs enters the room from a stone stairway. He says, “I let Dog know that they are waking up.”
Huge, and nearly ebony black, Dog is closer to 3 meters tall than two. Old scars are visible everywhere and that coupled with broken tusks and an odd tilt to his nose, tells you that he has seen more than his share of combat, the fact that he is still upright with that much old damage tells you that he may be one of the toughest individuals that you have ever met. His voice sounds like two boulders scraping together as he says, “Ain’t this a fun twist of fate, now the Dog holds da leash. The guys what killed you in Dog’s parkin lot has all taken a powder and Dog, he is such a genrus guy that he takes you in and patches you up like a poor little birdy what fell outa da nest. But then the Dog he thinks, maybe dese people dey gunna feel genrus back to the Dog and they take care of a little problem he be havin. Then he thinks, maybe he don’t give them the choice. So Dog, he adds a little sumpin to each a dey heads so if Dog is not happy they heads explode. Dog, he buys the cheapest brain bombs he can find though and these things they are just real sensitive. They so sensitive that if anyone pokes into the scars, they blow up. Even if they just look at the scars with one of them X-rated machines or an MRI or even has a wizcase go peekin in from lala land they goes boom. So let me tell you what you gunna do for Dog.
Dog’s competition is a stout little lady name of Kate Mustaffah. She is gonna die. Yous are the ones what is going to make her dead. The rest of that is yer problem. I hears you guys are supposed ta fly outta here tomorrow. I think you ain’t with your faces splashed all over da news. You kill the Kat and maybe Dog here can get you back to your hometown with your skins intact. You kill the Kat and I get them brain bombs outta your heads and send you home safe and sound.
Pariah finds it hard to believe that there are any detonators that are sensitive to astral perception, Rook believes that the “bomb” feels entirely different this time than the last one he had in his head, and when they go to Doc to discuss it with him, Doc agrees with Pariah that magic should not affect the mundane. With those items discussed, Rook gives Doc the go ahead to examine his “bomb” with astral perception. Doc doesn’t find anything there just some kind of pharmaceutical solution to cause a lump. In short order, Doc drains the solution out of nearly everyone’s head. The team decides to track down Banshee again and find out if she can help them leave Portland. She points them right back to Dog but when the team explains what Dog did to them she says she will talk to him.
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