It sounded like a standard piece of junk mail at first, but then you noticed that it was sent from an anonymous Shadowland email address. After reading it over with that in mind. It sounds like a potentially interesting job offer.
“TRY A WORKING VACATION IN THE TROPICS!” the spam said. glittering with animated Images. “Talented, daring individuals wanted for a profitable island adventure. Want to delve into local industry and spend time with friendly locals in a quiet neighborhood? Then this is the ‘job’ for you! Travel, room and board paid, plus flat fee and necessary expenses. Reply for confidential details.” So you replied. and after exd1anging a few more messages that hinted at the job without saying anything illegal, the Johnson on the other end finally agreed to an online meet to hammer out the details.
So here you are, virtually lounging around In a virtual conference room waiting for your virtual employer to get off his virtual hoop and show up. It’s a no-frills “room” with blank walls and no windows, which makes the wait even more boring: the Johnson paid for a pretty secure server. but apparently didn’t want to spend any extra money on the decor. Finally. another Icon resolves Itself, a generic, faceless, humanoid persona with no distinguishing characteristics. Just about what you expected.
“Thank you for coming,” he says. His voice is deep and dry. and you think you detect a trace of an accent-German or maybe Russian? “Let us get directly to business. I require a group of persons with your particular talents to kidnap a corporate scientist In Kourou. French Guiana. He must be abducted within one week and must be kept out of circulation until ten days from today. I do not wish him to be harmed. and there will be no ransom demands or exchanges that you need to be concerned with. Ten days from now. you may simply let him go. I can provide you with transportation to and from the area. information regarding the target”s movements and whereabouts and a secure place to keep the target if you so desire. What would your fee be for such an assignment?"
The Party arrives in French Guiana
For just a moment, as the plane door opens, you’re sure the pilot managed to land underwater then you realize that the hot, wet wave that just came rolling into the cabin isn’t water, just incredibly humid air. The light reflecting from the faded concrete runway is enough to make you squint through your mirror shades, not that you could make out much through the rippling heat waves anyway. Well, regardless, somewhere down there is a van with your name on it, which will eventually lead to a credstick with your name on it. Time to get moving.
Your entire body breaks out into a sweat as you make your way down the stairway into the massive oven that is Rochambeau Airport. This place is so fraggin’ hot. lt’s no wonder the city is named Cayenne. You hate to imagine what it’s like in the summer …
When the runners arrive for their meet with Bala, the gunrunner, read the following:
Squinting in the fading light as you steer the van down the two-lane coast road. you start to wonder if you’ve already passed the village where Bala wanted to meet. Then you see the abandoned truck she told you to look for; it’s an ancient, overgrown plastic hulk, all the glass long since broken and the metal rusted away. The grass along the shoulder is slightly shorter here than it is elsewhere; you assume this is the “road” she referred to and turn the van onto it, threading your way among the vine-covered trees that line the highway.
After a minute or so, a few buildings come into sight-a very few. When Bala described this village as “two huts and a dog.” she wasn’t exaggerating by much. The whole population of the place could probably fit in two good-sized Barrens apartments with enough room left over for a pack of devil rats. The villagers, dirt-poor locals by the looks of them, stare apathetically at you as you arrive. A quick look at the village’s rickety dock makes It easy to see that Bala has already arrived; the boat waiting out there is old and rundown, but it’s still probably worth more than the village and everything in it.
Bala herself is a slender but muscular human woman, forty-something years old. dressed in faded combat fatigues with long, grimy auburn hair and a face pockmarked with tiny scars. She doesn’t appear to be carrying any weapons, but the ork and the dwarf behind her are armed for bear. She gives you a once-over before jerking her head towards the rear of her boat, where you can dimly make out a number of crates covered with oilcloth. “Let’s get this over with.” she says. “You and you, come with Ebaninho and I; the rest of you stay here with Paco.” The ork-Paco, you assume-grins a broken tusked grin at you over his AK-97.
Once in Kourou, the group looks out to sea to the location they are hoping to kidnap their victim from.
Staring out over kilometer after kilometer of empty blue ocean. you wonder why anyone would want to live in such an Isolated place. These Islands give “the middle of nowhere” a new meaning, no wonder they used to use them as a prison camp. Sure, the arkoblock is probably just as comfortable as any office building back In the Sprawl. but why the frag would Proteus want to build one out here in the first place? The construction costs must have been astronomical; this place isn’t anywhere near the size of the Seattle arcology. but you wouldn’t be surprised If It cost almost as much to build.
And yet, there It Is. rising suddenly out of the sea like something out of a fairy tale. Forty meters of sheer, rocky cliffs topped with twenty-some stories of concrete and glass, indifferent to the waves crashing constantly around its base. At the edge of the islands, the building keeps going, plunging down to sea level in a massive curved wall of windows overlooking the ocean. The arkoblock is plunked down in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by swirling currents and circling sharks, and it looks like it could sit there for a thousand years undisturbed.
The team decides to do a preliminary run to see what they are going to be up against. Drake encounters great difficulty navigating the viscous currents and strong waves in the light inflated watercraft the team was able to acquire. Once at the site, Rook and Red make fairly easy work of the forty meter cliffs and spend a fair amount of time unobserved watching their mark make his rounds jogging. Satisfied with the layout of the area, they make a couple of minor adjustments to their preliminary plan and then rappel down to the cliff to rejoin Drake. This is where their luck runs out. Red gets her foot caught in a crevice in the stone just above the boat and can’t help but yelp in pain at just the moment that a roving guard happens to be nearby enough to hear. The group is spotted before they get into the boat for their return leg of the trip back to the mainland. Well before landfall, a Proteus AG labeled helicopter hovers above them and orders them to stop moving and wait. Their wait is very brief before a cutter from the island arrives with several crew members holding guns on them. They are brought aboard and their boat tied behind the cutter when they make their move. Each attempts to waylay one of their guards and though they make some initial progress, they are soon overwhelmed and restrained. Several difficult hours of interrogation later, the group is released on the mainland with warnings to stay clear of the island henceforth. Drake who had been severely injured during the scuffle awakens in the Kourou hospital.
Sulking a bit at their failure, the team is surprised when Mr Johnson calls them and informs them that they may have a second chance at the kidnapping. Dr Hausmann will be attending a dinner party in Kourou and they may be able to snatch him there if they are discreet and cause no damage to the house or the other guests at the party.
As run-down as the rest of Kourou may be, this area is actually fairly nice. The buildings aren’t particularly new, and the whole place is still hotter than a Vindicator after ten minutes of sustained fire, but it generally seems like a fairly pleasant, old-fashioned suburban neighborhood, without the mass produced sameness of most corporate housing facilities.
The target building itself is a smallish two-story A – frame house made with dark wood and lots of windows. A deck runs around two sides of the building. There ‘s a small garage nearby. Lots of trees screening the neighbors view, and the neighbors themselves are pretty far away … looks like this shouldn’t be too hard. But then, it always looks like that, doesn’t it?
According to Mr. Johnson. the guests should arrive around 1830 hours, and dinner will be served at 1930. Your target apparently isn’t fond of socializing, so Johnson expects him to be leaving no later than 2100 or so-just enough time to finish dinner and have a drink or two before excusing himself. He also told you to try to avoid any collateral damage, but that’s always easier said than done.
The team disguises their van to look like a taxi and Drake waits outside the building with the van just before the expected departure time of Dr Hausmann. Everything goes off without a hitch and the team is all together in the van with their victim when suddenly the van is under fire! From above, ammunition pours into the back corner of the vehicle, tearing the rear tire apart and forcing the team to stop. Looking about the team eventually spots a very small drone at long range and manage to shoot it down. The drone lands nearby and once it is carried away from the battle it detonates in Rook’s hands knocking him down and causing serious injury.
The DV-8s return to the safehouse with Dr Hausmann and stand guard. Doc detects an enemy mage attempting to track them through astral space and takes him out. Soon afterword the team receives a surprising phone call:
Something’s ringing. After a moment, you realize that it’s the phone your Johnson left you. “Hello …” a familiar voice says when you answer. There’s no video, but you recognize Mr. Johnson’s voice. “There has been a change in plans. Meet me tonight at midnight at the Sporting and Aero Club, and bring him with you. You will receive the rest of your fee: turn him over to me and your job will be complete. Any questions?”
The runners arrive at the meeting site:
It turns out that the Sporting and Aero Club has been abandoned for years: there’s a chainlink fence around the whole property and a big padlock on the front gate, but the lock has been cut open- and pretty recently, by the looks of it. It’s very quiet out here this time of night: you almost wish you could hear the familiar low murmur of the sprawl traffic rather than all this silence.
You’re not sure where exactly to go: the building is pretty big. and the thin moonlight doesn’t reveal much of a clue as to where Mr. Johnson might be. You start to head towards the front door when you hear a low whistle off to one side of the building.
Exchanging glances with the rest of your team, you move cautiously around the corner. This used to be the pool area, apparently, though it dried up long ago and is now nothing but a cracked concrete hole in the ground. A covered walkway runs around the edge of the building filled with rusting stacks of wrought-iron patio furniture. In the shadows of that walkway you can just make out a lone figure, standing in the corner “Hello.” he says. “Let’s conclude our business …” You recognize his voice: it’s Mr. Johnson, all right. He produces a small vinyl bag, unsnaps the top, and shows you what looks like a number of credsticks inside. Leaving the top open. he steps forward and places the bag at the edge of the pool, directly opposite you. “Leave my friend Heinrich there, if you please.” he says. " I will go this way around the pool to get to him, you go around that side of the pool to get your money, and everyone leaves happy, hmm?" He looks expectantly over at you.
The exchange takes place flawlessly and as you are heading back to your vehicle, Mr. Johnson calls out, “You may wish to spend your last few nights in our fine country a little more comfortably.” He hands you a card with a familiar address on it. The address of the party that you had taken Dr. Hausmann from. “He won’t be needing it.” Mr Johnson says. As he smiles and gets into his own vehicle.
The DV-8’s simply can’t resist checking out the address they are given.
The house is quiet and dark except for a single light towards the back. No sign of anyone moving inside, either. As you look more closely, though, you notice that the front door of the house hangs ajar, swinging back and forth in the hot breeze.
The characters enter the house and start looking around:
You enter the house cautiously, listening for any sign of life, but it’s dead quiet inside. Everything in the front room seems to be in order, but as you head towards the back of the house,your nostrils catch the unmistakable coppery tang of blood. The study door is open, and the light is still on, revealing the source of that smell.
Mr. Johnson is sprawled in his desk chair in the center of the room. His hands are cuffed together behind the chair: his head is hung back, his eyes open and staring. There is a neat bullet hole in his forehead, obviously inflicted from very close range: the hole in the back of his head is much larger, and the back of the chair and the carpet below are covered with dried blood and bone fragments. A small -caliber revolver is lying on the floor a few feet away from the body.
There is no movement in the room, except for a small, blinking message on the telecom screen at his desk. “RECORDING ENDED-OUT OF STORAGE SPACE." it says. "PLAYBACK NOW? (Y/ N)”
The characters play back the telecom recording:
The recording begins with Mr. Johnson sitting at this desk. In this very room. He looks at the telecom for a moment, then composes his face in to a sad expression. "Herr Verdan …” he says. “I regret what happened to Heinrich as much as anyone. But we cannot—no. that’s not right.” He shakes his head. pauses for a moment, then starts again . "Herr Verdan. Heinrich’ s safety is more important than the probe’s launch, but that’s in the hands of the police now. We must-no, no. Sincere. Be sincere.- He pauses again. this time looking gravely into the camera. "Herr Verdan. Heinrich would want us to continue with the launch, I know he would. But we can’t use his payload package without him. I hate to seem heartless, but we must choose an alternate payload. and—
This time, Johnson is interrupted by a crash from somewhere off-camera. He leaps to his feet. startled . and slaps hastily at the keyboard in the direction of the PAUSE key.
Apparently he missed, because the recording keeps running as he takes a few steps towards the door of the study. A few seconds after he moves out of the camera’s line of sight, he’ s literally thrown back into the frame, slamming against the far wall and falling heavily to the floor. A muscular and obviously cybered man walks into the frame and kicks him viciously in the ribcage as he tries to rise. As Johnson flops back to the floor, the vatjob rears back for another kick but is stopped by the arrival of a tall, blond-haired elf.
“Patience, Zwei.” he says in a smooth. cultured German accent. “Let us not harm Herr Hoff, at least until he has told us what we want to know.” Another cybered human enters the frame, and together they haul Johnson-or Hoff, you suppose- into his desk chair and cuff his hands behind him.
“Herr Hoff.- the elf says. "we know that you are responsible for Heinrich Hausmann’s disappearance”: Hoff stares up at him, wide-eyed and sweating, apparently too terrified to reply. “While your desire to improve your standing within Proteus AG is admirable. It is very important to us that Herr Hausmann gets his payload loaded aboard the comet probe. That requires him to be at work to operate it. This is very important to us. A matter of life and death, in fact. Do you take my meaning?” Shaking, Hoff nods. “Good. Now first, you will tell me all about your little plan.”
Stammering and sweating, Hoff tells the elf about his deal with you, the money, the safe house, and so forth. He doesn’t even try to hold anything back. When he finishes, the elf taps his fingers together thoughtfully as he thinks.
“I assume that you have some way of contacting the persons you hired?” he asks. Again, Hoff nods. “You will do so. Now. Explain that matters have changed, and that you wish to secure Herr Hausmann’s release. You will pay them the rest of their fee, and they will release Herr Hausmann to you. Have them meet you at midnight tonight at the Sporting and Aero club, and bring Herr Hausmann with them. Do you understand? Say nothing of what is going on here: say only exactly what I have told you.” One of the razorboys punctuates that comment by cocking his revolver noisily next to Hoff’s ear. Hoff nods. and looks over towards an end table. " Phphone over there.” he stutters out. "Second drawer. S-speed dial number 1” The second razorboy gets the indicated phone, dials, and holds it up to Hoff’s ear. You hear one side of a conversation that you’ve already heard. When Hoff gets off the phone, the elf smiles. “Well done. Herr Hoff. As a reward. I give you a quick death: one far kinder than the rest of mankind will suffer after the Götterbote probe is launched tomorrow.”
Hoff begins to babble … But they’re expecting me! I must be there tonight! You need me there!"
The elf shakes his head. smiling. "No. I don’t … He looks down at the man in the chair for a moment, then his image shimmers. Suddenly, an exact duplicate of Hoff is standing where the elf was, looking down at his twin in the chair. "You see:” he says, his voice an exact match for Hoff’s own. "they will see exactly whom they expect tonight” His image flickers again, and once more the elf stands where he was. "So you see, we no longer need you at all.‘’
As Hoff begins incoherently spewing pleas for his life, the razorboy with the revolver places the barrel directly in the center of Hoff’s forehead and fires. Blood sprays: Hoff twitches for a second or two. then goes limp.
“Won’t look like a suicide, shot there … the second razorboy grunts. The first one shrugs and drops the pistol to the floor. He moves to sever Hausmann’s bonds with his wrist spur when the elf stops him.
“No, leave him like that.” he says. "I believe that we can find someone else to take responsibility for Herr Hoff’s murder I so despise loose ends. Give me that phone.” With that, the trio leaves the room.
The video continues for some time, showing only Hoff’s corpse, before it abruptly ends with an “INSUFFICIENT STORAGE SPACE” error message.
Only moments after the recording ends, sirens blare from immediately outside the building. Forms can be seen moving about in the darkness in the backroom and A voice shouts out for anyone inside the building to comeout with their hands up.
Return to Shadowrun.