Mother's Little Helper
|Mother's Little Helper|
During their last meeting with Finn Mori--who is Akira's sister and Piper's cousin--she told them that she's currently working as an intern with Ace Powers. After Piper's recent run where Ace served as the Johnson, she has some concerns about her safety, which she and Akira conversed about. They eventually come to the conclusion that Finn deserves to know that they're runners, and invite her out to Akira's cabin south of the sprawl.
As Vip3r drives to Puyallup to meet up with Black Samurai, she calls her biological mother (Makoto Mori) to check in with her and see how she's doing. She's working when Vip3r calls and isn't able to talk for long, but mentions offhandedly that she plans to "see Titania" later. Suspicious, Vip3r asks her who she's talking about. Makoto simply identifies her as "a friend" and seems unwilling to elaborate. On a hunch that this might have something to do with her BTL addiction, Vip3r reminds her of the agreement they made regarding her financial assistance to her mother and her chip use, then amicably ends the call and lets her return to work.
Kids are Different Today
Vip3r & Black Sam take Sam's Shin-Hyung out to the cabin on a disused Ancients smuggling route. A pair of Ancients on bikes cut them off, telling Sam that they've seen him take this route multiple times in a vehicle that wasn't meant to travel it, and in the interest of not bringing heat down on their turf they'd like something in return. While Sam thinks about how easily he could butcher the go-gangers with his katana, Vip3r decides to take a much more diplomatic route. Having been approached by both Babylon and Duchess in the past to contract her hacking services and having discussed the issue at length with Freya, she knows that the gang is sorely in need of hackers. She tells one Ancient that she's willing to work out a trade, slyly flashing her "cyberdeck" where it's holstered under her jacket. The favor seems like agreement enough, and the gangers hand Ether's business cards to each of them.
The cabin is sparsely appointed and still very much under construction, with one of the four walls completely torn down and in the process of being gradually rebuilt. As Black Sam is showing Vip3r around, Finn drives up in her Fun One. They all sit down on the floor of the cabin, opening a pizza box and a bottle of bourbon, and begin to talk for a while until Black Sam finally cuts to the chase.
He asks Finn what she thinks he does for a living, and she responds that she's sure it's something violent and illegal like beating up people for a gang leader (which is not entirely untrue, given the work he's done for Warboss to clear his debt with him). He admits to being a shadowrunner, and she stares in stunned silence for a minute before pulling up videos of recent acts of terrorism, asking if he does things like this. Sam desperately attempts to walk the conversation back and explain, saying that he tries to mitigate the violence that occurs in this line of work. Finn isn't satisfied by this. Why doesn't he just kill people who cause these things to happen? Why doesn't he just kill the people who pay runners to commit acts of terrorism? Why can't he just get a normal job doing something legal instead of persisting in a line of work that could get him killed tomorrow?
Vip3r, who up to this point has been swirling her bourbon in her glass and wondering if it's better to just keep her cover as a cybersecurity contractor with S-K, finally interjects to say that not everyone who becomes a runner has a choice in the matter. She tells her that her career as a shadowrunner began after she was released from prison and couldn't find work or housing because she was saddled with a criminal SIN, and was offered the chance to get rid of her problems if she just put her skills to work. This still doesn't satisfy Finn, who maintains that since Vip3r has the skill to do what she claims to do, she would be able to easily get a GED and get fast-tracked through college if she went to work for a corp. As Finn grows more and more insistent, Vip3r grows more and more distressed, realizing that she has to continue to reveal more about her past. She tells Finn that she can't go to work for a corp, because then she'd need to get licensed as a technomancer--which is how she got sent to prison on trumped-up charges to begin with--and that having her identity out in the open would put her in incredible danger. Finn still doesn't buy it, saying that she knows people who are technomancers who are employed in corporate positions and are paid well for their skills. Seeing no way around a full reveal, Vip3r finally breaks down and tells her that the reason she can't have the normal job or life that she's been trying so desperately to present to Finn is that she spent two years as a test subject in a black site. She continues her tirade about how she has to try so desperately to fit in and seem normal despite having to live with unbelieveable trauma and knowledge that sounds like conspiracy theory-level drek, when Finn catches her off guard with an apologetic look and a hug. Not having expected to disarm Finn, and unsure what to do now that all of her pent-up emotion is suddenly being redirected, Vip3r breaks down crying.
When she finally calms down, the conversation resumes in a much less heated tone. Finn still doesn't understand why her brother and cousin continue to live as shadowrunners. Black Samurai mentions the freedom it affords to turn down jobs, and Vip3r holds up the fact that life in the shadows allows her a chance at rebuilding the other half of her family. While Finn still doesn't quite get it, she's begun to see their side of the issue. They finish dinner, Finn heads home, and Black Samurai offers to share some novacoke with Vip3r while they hang out at the cabin for the rest of the night.
To Calm Her Down
While watching an old episode of My Parents Are Shadowrunners, Vip3r receives a call from an unknown commcode originating in Quebec. She picks up to see her adoptive mother, Laura Tanaka, on the other end of the call, looking panicked and telling her she wants to meet to discuss something important. But even with the satellite link that Black Samurai installed in the cabin, the noise here is almost unbearable and the connection crackles and cuts out. Vip3r panics, looking to Black Sam and telling him that she needs him to drive her back into town immediately. He begins to pack up without question, loading their things into the Shin-Hyung's trunk and driving off.
Once she has a decent signal, Vip3r attempts to call the commcode from which she received the call and gets a message saying it's no longer in service. She calls Laura's commcode, failing initially to receive an answer, and begins obsessively trying again and again while Black Sam quickly packs a bag in anticipation of an impromptu road trip to Montreal.
The comm call attempts continue, until Laura finally answers around 11:30 pm (which is 2:30 am her time). She's concerned and confused, asking what all the repeated missed calls were about. Vip3r, also incredibly confused, reminds her of the call from earlier and asks her what she needed to talk about, because it seemed important. Laura seems to have no idea what Vip3r's talking about, can tell that she's clearly very intoxicated, and asks her if she's okay, requesting that she call her back in the morning. Vip3r hesitates for a moment, then hits her with a string of rapid-fire questions about everything from the names of the kids she ran with on the street to the albums that Laura used to play on repeat in the car on their morning drives to school. While all of her answers are correct, there's enough hesitation there for Vip3r to not be totally sure if she's really talking to Laura, and after dealing with impostors on her last job, is suddenly terrified that she may have been replaced by someone else. She ends the call and promises to call in the morning, but is even less satisfied than before.
She Burns A Frozen Steak
They arrive at Vip3r's Bellevue apartment, and Vip3r runs inside in a panic, immediately checking for anything out of place with any of the devices in her home and fixating on a muddled resonance signature on her soykaf maker that might belong to Cecelia Cross; it's unclear. She turns to Absolute Zero where she sits watching the same My Parents are Shadowrunners episode on the couch, and immediately asks her if anyone besides her and Harebuck have been in the apartment. Zero says no, confused, and asks what's going on. Vip3r tries to think of the best way to explain the situation, realizing that 1) she doesn't know what's going on and can't explain it in a way that makes sense, and 2) she's managed to accidentally brick the soykaf maker in her distress. She looks back to Zero, telling her to get dressed because she needs to talk to someone at E-Vue and wants Zero to be there.
She neglects, of course, to tell Zero that her hastily-hatched plan involves potentially using the mind probe spell that she learned a while back, and that mind probing a high-level and extremely vindictive A-corp exec will absolutely get all of them killed. But all ideas are great ideas when you've done enough novacoke.
The three runners arrive at E-Vue shortly after. As is her general procedure, Vip3r immediately goes to the front of the line, apologizing to Vee-Jay for constantly disrespecting order and whipping a credstick out of her pocket. She tells him that she has urgent business inside and will offer him however much money he wants to get inside--¥2k? ¥4k?--Vip3r knows he's working on a graduate degree, and he must need money. Vee-Jay verbally refuses, but then sends Black Samurai a message telling him to have Vip3r slip him the credstick unnoticed and he'll have someone let them in the back, because he's planning a wedding and desperately needs money. Vip3r goes along with the act, apologizing profusely with a handshake (which serves as the vehicle for the credstick exchange), and goes to the back of the line until Tee and Vee come out to bring them inside.
Vip3r immediately marches up to Cecelia's office, and is confronted by Cecelia's obscenely tall bodyguard who is suddenly far more intimidating than she is attractive. She asks to speak with Cecelia anyway, and she and her companions are allowed inside.
As soon as Vip3r sits down and Cecelia asks her what she needs to talk about, she suddenly realizes that this was a horrible plan and anything she tells her is going to make her sound absolutely unhinged and will likely hinder her plans to extract her father. She can't possibly expect an honest answer about what kind of nefarious things she suspects Cecelia may be up to, because she'd never admit to anything that Vip3r is concerned about--especially when Cecelia knows her past. She spends a minute hesitating, watching Black Samurai pet the lion that she keeps, then finally opens up. She mentions she's worried about Laura, as a result of the comm calls she'd received, as well as the fact that Cecelia now has people like Drs. X and Shinji in her employ. Vip3r falters for a moment, trying to think of the most diplomatic way to word what she's thinking; in the absence of any alternative, she comes out and says that she worries about what Cecelia is planning, and that Cross may end up as the new MCT.
Predictably, Cecelia is livid about this and demands that Vip3r elaborate on what she means. Absolute Zero then chooses the absolute best time to assense Cecelia, which makes her even angrier, and the group almost gets thrown out, only to be saved by Black Sam's attempt to remedy the situation by holding up Vip3r's dedication to her family.
Caught off guard by this, Vip3r attempts to walk the statement back, saying that the reason she's concerned about this is that it seems so unlike Cecelia (which is a lie), and she wants to ensure that none of what's happened to her happens to anyone else. Cecelia finally explains that her intent is to use her knowledge gained from MCT and NeoNET to advance knowledge, not to cause prolonged suffering. Shinji and X happen to have useful knowledge, which is why Cecelia needs them. While she doesn't appreciate Vip3r's accusation of potentially replacing Laura with a bodysnatcher, she states that she would have no reason to do such a thing and is willing to ensure it didn't happen--even to go so far as to fly out to Montreal tomorrow morning to speak with her directly.
While Vip3r is by no means satisfied with this, it soothes her anxiety a little bit, and she asks if she and her companions can accompany her on that trip so that Vip3r can verify for herself. Cecelia agrees to Black Samurai going, but seems much colder toward Zero and is adamantly opposed until Black Samurai offers to do a job for Cecelia for free if she allows it. She reluctantly agrees to this, and the runners board a flight to Montreal the following morning.
Two days spent with Laura Tanaka seem to sufficiently confirm that she is indeed who she's supposed to be, and seems to not have been replaced by anyone else. Zero confirms that her aura looks the same as what she saw during the extraction. Vip3r is still doubtful, but with no evidence of anything she should worry about, she convinces herself she should be satisfied.
Outside The Door, She Took Four More
After returning to Seattle, Vip3r receives a comm call from David Yang, asking for some help with some code and offering a premium rate for her help since it can't be sent over the Matrix; she's needed on site at a BTL den in Tacoma. Vip3r is frustrated with the request, but agrees anyway, expecting to need help again from the Eighty-Eights Triad in the future.
She arrives and does the requested work, which is a simple problem she's seen before; a line of code was skipped or deleted, and is a relatively easy fix. As she's repairing it, Black Samurai sees Makoto Mori (Vip3r's biological mother) enter, tell one of the staff that she's here to "see Titania," and be led into a private room. The footage is recorded by his cybereyes and he sends it to Vip3r, who is distressed and distracted in the middle of her work, but finishes the job anyway. Yang thanks her profusely, glad that he doesn't have to yell at the manufacturer in Hong Kong. She collects her payment, and goes to wait outside the door until her private dreamchip session ends.
Makoto doesn't expect to be confronted by her daughter on her way out and looks incredibly guilty to have been caught in her habit. Instead of immediately castigating her for it, Vip3r invites her to get something to eat and have a private conversation. Her mother struggles to remember Akira, recognizing him but taking some time to recall how she knew him. Vip3r is unsure of how to define her relationship with Zero to someone who's never met her before when she sees it as a big series of question marks herself, and settles on "My roommate? It's complicated."--which was probably the worst choice possible.
Zero rants about the injustice of being relegated to roommate status to Black Samurai as they get coffee nearby, while Vip3r has a long and frustrating conversation with her mother. She asks if Makoto remembers what made her run away all those years ago--which she struggles to do--and then proceeds to walk her through the events, how someone came to the door asking where she was, offering to pay Makoto if she told them, and how Vip3r knew they were looking to collect on technomancer bounties and ran out the fire escape. She fires back by asking Vip3r if she ever considered how she might've made her chip problem worse. Vip3r looks hurt, she realizes how aggressive she's being, and dials it back a bit; what did Vip3r expect her to do, just watch trids and use normal simsense as escapism? She doesn't touch tripchips and has eased off of personafixes after Vip3r's one encounter with her while she used one, and besides, she's using chips in as safe a way as possible, in a secure place that's dedicated to their use instead of in an alley somewhere.
Vip3r finally makes a concession at that, saying it's also probably better for her to buy from the Triad than the Yakuza; the Eighty-Eights aren't the worst source for vices. Her mother promises to try to use chips less frequently, which Vip3r tells her is all she can really ask for.
The group all meets up again. They drop Makoto off at the cheap motel where she lives and works in an incredibly poignant scene.
Vip3r and Zero arrive at home, and have another difficult and dramatic talk about their own relationship--which ultimately ends in them deciding to be more than roommates.
- 20 CDP
- Optional Contact: Alexander-James Brodrick Johnson III (C4/L2 Lovable Idiot) for 10 CDP
- Optional Contact: Tee & Vee (C2/L2 Bodyguards) for 6 CDP
- Optional Contact: Vee-Jay (C2/L2 Bouncer) for 6 CDP
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
I feel bad for worrying Finn, but she needed to know what she was tangentially embroiled in. I am--as Finn thumbed right away--pretty useless to change the tide of things. But, there are jobs that need to be done, and I am more capable than most other runners and am learning to minimize the fallout around myself, even if others won't.
I trust Piper. I saw her mother--full of panic with my own eyes. I want to get to the bottom of this. I also recognize that Cecelia is probably telling us a partial truth...that she's here to restore her family's company and--in the process--make a small fortune. I am not particularly pleased about doing the next job for free, but Piper needed the emotional support, and any BIG immoral moves Cecelia makes will be slightly further down the line. Hopefully she'll burn the freebie soon, and I have an opportunity to be more selective when those game-changing plays get made.
So, I feel like if there's anything I've learned over the past few days, it's that I'm completely fragging unhinged and there's probably something wrong with my brain--which, let's be honest here, really shouldn't be new information. I mean, how could I possibly be okay after all the drek I've gone through? I spend entire weeks on end feeling like a total outsider because I don't know how to talk to people and can't tell if I'm fitting in enough, and all I want is to get a hug from my mom and have her tell me that I'm doing fine and I'll be able to work it all out, except that I don't even know if my mom is really my mom anymore or if she's been kidnapped and replaced with a really convincing actor. Which, I know, makes me sound completely fragging unhinged.
I don't want to play the whole "I'm poor tortured Piper who's had a terrible life, everyone should feel bad for me" card, especially because I feel like I already did it with Finn, but... seriously, can I just get a fucking break?
...I should probably save all this for therapy.
On the upside, I think things with my other mom (y'know, from my blood family) are going better, and maybe the help I'm giving her will get her on her feet. And the talk with Phoenix went well. Really well. Kinda makes me think that maybe we've got a future ahead of us.