A Lesson in Not Getting Caught
|A Lesson in Not Getting Caught|
|Part of Two Steps Ahead|
|Casualties and losses|
In which the runners are hired by Saeder-Krupp to make an example out of a decker who stole from Lofwyr, and end up being lead on a chase across the Metroplex before delivering corporate justice.
Amrei Veidt has the runners meet with her at S-K's Seattle Headquarters. Everyone manages to arrive within around 45 minutes and are disarmed by security before getting into an elevator and being brought to a task force center; they are met by an elf who leads them into a luxurious Faraday-caged office and introduces them to “Frau Brackhaus” before promptly leaving them to their business. Samsara, coked up from Friday night partying, attempts to take the lead with her 3 dice but Charon wisely shuts her down and handles facing duties. Veidt shows them a dossier on a target and tells the team she wants them to hunt this person down and make an example of them (i.e. get footage of their execution to be distributed widely so that people know what happens when you steal from S-K). For this task she is willing to pay them 26,000 nuyen, each. Everyone whistles a bit at the money, and some of the team even consider trying to push for more, but they all agree that this is a fair price for a person’s life.
After agreeing to the job, Veidt gives the team the dossier which contains the information that S-K has dug up on their target – a decker named Karl Hawthorne who stole a large amount of data from Bahamut Industries, an S-K subsidiary, and is in the process of selling it off to his shadow contacts. They also have the locations of 3 safehouses that they are known to use (two in Redmond, one in Puyallup). After reviewing the file, the team leave S-K’s offices and hop in Samsara’s vehicle to go check them out. Fintan projects down to Puyallup to take a look at the place and finds a mana barrier protecting it – a quick zip over to Redmond finds that one of the safehouses there is also warded while the other is not. The team decide to head to check out the unwarded one first and begin their investigations there.
Arriving in Redmond, the team pulls up to the first safehouse to find three humanoid figures outside huddled around a burning barrel. They do not appear on the astral, and there is some concern about cyberzombies before Sp4rks manages to spot out some signals on the matrix. He gets a mark on one of the devices and has his mark chain up to the master of the PAN, confirming that they are indeed anthrodrones, but he is unable to get his second mark before the master is able to mark him twice, forcing him to reboot or risk being traced. Aware that their target knows that they’ve been hacked and that someone is onto their trail, the team opts to attempt to capture one of the drones for analysis.
Fintan summons a beast spirit in the form of a dire wolf and persuades it to allow Samsara to ride on its back into battle against the robots, a prospect at which she is positively delighted. Charon opens things up by attempting to shoot one of them with her hand cannon – it does not even attempt to dodge, but the round pings off it harmlessly. Samsara charges on wolf-back and attempts to kick one of their heads off, but her attack also bounces off the metal armor without any attempt to avoid it. Sp4rks approaches and finds that there is no resistance to his attempts to establish a direct connection, however the drones are found to be formatted and entirely wiped of useful information. Collecting them to bring back to S-K as evidence, Samsara a) notices that the drones are constructed out of scrap parts, and b) finds a stealth tag on each of them, crushing 2 of them before Sp4rks notices that they have been odd-modded and slips the third into a Faraday pocket to bring back to their employer as well.
A quick search inside confirms that the safehouse is empty of occupants both living and mechanical, so the team head towards the second Redmond safehouse expecting trouble. When they arrive they park a fair distance away and approach stealthily – Sp4rks is able to spot several device icons, confirming that the place is occupied (there are appliances and weapons, but he is unable to spot commlinks). The thing that catches everyone’s notice though are the dozen gas grenades which were apparently set off a few minutes beforehand. The grenades are still slaved to a master device, but the Sp4rks is unable to secure marks wirelessly, so he attempts to get inside to grab one for a direct connection – unfortunately this means tearing through the chemsealed window, which causes him to get a facefull of neurostun 7 and pass out. Charon slap patches him and Fintan (clad in chemsealed armor) goes to grab a grenade, but by this point they have all been disconnected from the master device by the diligent opfor.
Unable to find any hints outside the second safehouse and unwilling to brave the neurostun-filled interior when only one member of the team has chemsealed armor, the team pop Sp4rks in the van’s valkyrie module and hoof it down to Puyallup as fast as possible. When they arrive though the safehouse seems to be pretty thoroughly abandoned – there is a mana barrier still up, but it seems to have been here for at least a week, and though there is evidence of habitation in that time there’s no caches of datachips or spare electronics parts that would indicate it was used as a hacker den. Puzzled, the team spend a bit of time searching for tracks but turn up nothing, so Charon calls up Marion, her PI contact, and start hitting him with the info they’ve got to look for leads. Marion takes a look and finds that a large amount of nuyen moved through the target’s accounts (likely from the sale of stolen data) and is able to trace a transaction to a credstick withdrawal in Snohomish.
The team prepares to haul ass, however camera footage hacked from a nearby gas station shows that there are 6 go-gangers on bikes fueling up for a long ride (from the gang which protected the area the Redmond safehouses were in), and that their target does not seem to be among them. Fintan uses an air spirit to attempt to cause an accident, and Sp4rks goes to attempt a data spike, but it’s for naught – the spirit is too weak to pull it off, and the bikes are wireless off. Afraid of losing their only lead, the team still attempts to haul it north as fast as possible to physically interrogate them for the target’s location.
The desperation is unnecessary however, as S-K Prime is One Step Ahead as usual – the team receives a call from Frau Brackhaus which fills them in on some missing info from the dossier they were given, specifically the augmentations which the target is equipped with. Among other deltaware-grade augs, they have a 2 hour internal air tank. The lightbulb clicks for the team as they realize that the target is inside the gassed house, that the attempted booby trap set for them was actually a clever misdirection, and change course back to Redmond to get there as fast as they can.
Arriving, the team finds that the neurostun gas has dissipated out of the hole that Sp4rks created in the window, so Charon and Samsara boot down the doors and begin searching. They find a sealed hatch under a carpet and use their physad powers to punch through the metal until its ripped off its hinges, jumping down to find the decker passed out in VR. Sp4rks joins them while Fintan watches on the astral from outside, but as they’re tying him up and preparing to do the deed they are surprised to find that he’s jumped into another anthrodrone. Charon is lit up with fully automatic ADPS fire which puts her down for the count (don’t worry, she has regeneration), so Samsara charges the robot and punches it, which it no-sells. Sp4rks blasts the rifle out of its hands, and Samsara pulls Hawthorne’s jack out to dumpshock him before dismantling the drone with her bare hands.
Hawthorne is in little state to resist as he is restrained and his deck is taken – setting up a camera, Charon does the deed in a manner that is sure to leave an impression on any potential viewers, and the team roll the body up in a rug to haul it back to S-K.
Calling up Veidt, the team are directed to return to S-K HQ – leaving the body outside with handlers for bagging and tagging, they head back up to her office for their debriefing. After giving a full report and handing over the cyberdeck, datachips, drones and tags they found, each is presented with their promised payment and allowed to leave the premises without any further trouble.
- 26,000 nuyen
- 2 karma
- 2 CDP
- 26,000 nuyen and Amrei Veidt (C6/L1 S-K Prime Operative) as a contact
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Woah, that was some heavy stuff... so I’m just having a normal Friday night when I got a call from Warboss to leave the show I was at (which honestly, still a bit upset about) and haul it over to S-K headquarters to talk to some corporate bigshot named “Brackhaus” or something. It was super impressive though, all that cool stuff – they must have had two dozen people just constantly pouring through information, and I’m pretty sure that Brackhaus lady’s desk was made out of real wood too. Anyway, this German woman with gold eyes (side note: super pretty) offers me and the rest of the team more money than I’ve ever seen before in one place just to go track down and record ourselves killing some nerd who crossed her boss. I was down right away – I don’t really like killing people, but that’s more money than I can afford to turn down, and if I didn’t take it they’d just have found someone else.
Tracking this guy down was a big pain though – I’ve gone after hackers for the Skraacha before, but usually I just get pointed in the right direction and told who to beat up. This guy though, he had three safehouses in two districts, with ganger allies as well, so even though we had a full team we had to be a bit careful. We scouted them out and hit the one that seemed empty first, only to find that he had robot guards waiting there – the hacker tried tracing them, but I guess the target was better on the ‘trix, so me and the vampire (another side note: vampires aren’t nearly as scary as they are in the trids) played rock paper scissors to see who got to ride a wolf spirit (I won, it was awesome) into battle. It turns out fighting robots isn’t nearly as cool as it is in matrix games though – punching them hurt like hell, and they didn’t even put up a fight because the nerd controlling them just wiped all the info off of them.
So we go to check out the second place, but it turns out the guy set off gas bombs before we arrived (I guess thinking he was luring us into an ambush or something) and the decker managed to knock himself out thinking that just a gas mask would protect him (yet another side note: I really need some full body armor for this sort of thing). None of us are keen on going inside, so I gun it down to Puyallup to check out the third house, only it’s totally abandoned when we get there. At this point I’m thinking things are fragged, but then we find out that the target had air tanks and things clicked – he was in the gas house the whole time! By the time we get back it was all vented out and we found him hiding in a basement.
I kinda wish there was some way we could have like, faked the poor guy’s death or something, but S-K would have probably found out somehow, and I’m pretty sure that vampire lady Charon was hungry anyway after regenerating from being shot full of holes by one of those drones (I made sure to beat it up for her). Still I guess the nuyen is good, and it’s not like I haven’t done a lot worse before for a lot less; maybe I’ll keep that German woman’s number too, S-K at least seems a lot nicer than Renraku.
Hmm, I remember hearing some saying about dealing with dragons, how did that go again? Eh, probably not important…
'"Haven't had any dealings with Saeder-Krupp in a while. Last time was couple dozen years back in a little milk run, so I suppose they still remember who they hired back then? Maybe not. I was more small time then, not bold enough like I am now. I'm running out of time. I need to be more out in the open even if it's risking a lot. Still, going on these man hunts was easier back in the day. You found the right guy, you roughed him up, worked the knife and they squealed. Every single year, it gets more and more and more digital. I don't have the head to go scrambling in the Matrix, for fuck's sake. I'm too analog for the digital age. I remember when portable bricks were the best of communication technology. Now... all I can rely on is my experience. I might live forever, but time is still my enemy. Every hour I spend chasing some chickenshit hacker robbing S-K and trying to keep up with these zoomers is just an hour away from finding those I really want. We went from shooting galleries of junkbots to gas chambers and mana barriers... I refreshed my memories of Seattle during the joy ride, sure, but I can't afford to waste any more time. I need to find the remaining thirteen before they die in an old folks' home somewhere or get too cozy with some megacorp's rejuvenation treatments. As much as I don't feel like being some megacorp's little bitch... they might have the connections and eyes I need to track every last one of them down."'
'When the Sage wanted me to get into the shadow community, I prepared myself for experiencing the darker side of life. Still. Killing a fellow runner just felt bad. Even if I wasn't directly the one doing the deed. Already decided. I'll ask around in Haven, where I can do something for the community. Also, I got an idea of a song. To honor his memory. Dunno how good or bad of a person this runner was, maybe I'll call out to him later. But for that a song dedicated for him is the least I can offer.'
Wednesday evening. The time when most end their shifts and looks forward to hang out in matricial lobbies for the week end. It had to be then that S-K decided to hold the meet, and obviously it was on a tight schedule. Not loosing time, i took my stuff, threw the AK-97 in the under-seat compartment of the Suzuki mirage and floored it. I arrive and meet the others in time, Charon gives me an weird feeling, Samsara was obviously buzzed on something (i certainly can't blame her a Wednesday evening), and i spend some time chatting with Fintan in the elevator, a nice guy all around. This was going to be an interesting night.
A S-K wageslave come pick us up once we get out of the elevator, makes a haughty face when Samsara goes to shake his hand, and order us to follow him. I didn't make a fuss, but goddamn if i didn't recognize the typically authoritarian and austere ways of S-K and the allied german states. Ironically the actual Johnson, while very professional and direct, was easier to deal with. I made sure to accept a deal which did not require anything else than to kill the guy and film it within 24 Hours as i planned to leave him some kind of last wish. Apparently the guy was a datashark that i never heard of, with only tenuous links to the actual shadows.
We decide to hit the farther suspected location, a warehouse. On site, Fintan see three humanoids and he tells us he can't see their aura, and i can't see any visible icons on the 'trix. Suspecting foul play i investigate and find three icons running silent, they are seemingly slaved to a deck as their firewall and attack ratings are high. I try marking them, and get one, however the second mark did not stick and the other guy noticed me. A proper ass whooping on the matrix and bruised ego later, we're getting in position to curb stomp the three silhouettes into the ground. Seeing Samsara and Charon were attacking the silhouettes with so much brute force it gave me mixed feelings, but sadly the targets were wiped clean of any data once i could get to them. This guy was good, and i hated it more and more with every passing seconds.
We decide to put the drone in the trunk, and floor it towards one of the other locations, as the mark i got on the master device earlier pointed in this direction. This site featured many hidden icons, some were of kitchen appliances and others of fucking gas grenades. they were triggered two minutes ago, and apparently still slaved to the guy ! I gunned it towards one of the windows in the hope of establishing a direct connection with one of the grenades, after all i had a gas mask so no worries there and i was in a hurry to make this guy pay for his earlier victory. I break the glass, and... wake up ten minutes later in the car with the crew making jokes at my expense. Fuck do i want this guy dead, now.
Turns out the third location is empty as fuck, apparently the place might have burned out weeks ago. There wasn't even any device icons, even silent ones. What followed is us grasping at straws, the johnson tried to help us with new info on the regular but none really clicked until the last one. the mother fucker had internal air tanks as 'ware. fearing he fled, we break every traffic law and even more getting to the second location, where thankfully the gas dissipated.
Exploring further inside, the ladies did not take long to perceive a reinforced trap door. And i kid you not they punched, scratched and pried it open like low grade plastic. At that moment i figured i never were in danger as long as they were near. The trapdoor led down in a sort of small bunker, i stayed behind and followed the team in a small room. We got ambushed by yet another anthro-drone, which liquefied Charon right before my eyes, Samsara did not loose time disconnecting the Rigger from his RCC before the same fate befell any of us non-immortal folks. At this point, the ladies put the guy on a chair, i started filming, and they did the job.
So much for last wishes, he should not have made it so difficult for us in the first place. We then returned the corpse, it's stuff and the video to S-K, i'm still very salty that they did not let me keep his deck.