|Part of By Royal Decree|
|Casualties and losses|
The runners are hired to murder a man in his bed while planting encoded evidence in different locations. They succeed, though many mysteries remain.
The runners are contacted about an elven man recruiting a team. Networking around different underworld circles, the man left few details in his wake but seemed legitimate enough for the team's fixers to refer their runners.
Voltage intimidated a guy for walking while suited.
The team are led to a nondescript building in the north-eastern part of Downtown. In the transition zone to Snohomish, the area lacked the energy and wealth of Downtown proper. The building was bare, with little to see other than a locked door, maglock activated. Waiting outside, the team chatted some, a bit of tension being added when Voltage and Cricket realized Vic was part of a group targeting gangs. Tiring of nothing happening, Vic eventually decided to bypass the maglock, breaking their way into the building.
Stepping into a generic hallway, an elf with soykaf walked past at the end, only to double take and head over to the team. Confused at how they got in, and somewhat curious why they didn't knock, the man lead the team over to a conference room. Inside, a few elves were scattered across the room, a small table to the side loaded with cheap donuts and soykaf and pop music being played through the air. At the centerpiece, an elven woman looked at the team as they entered, sipping soykaf and bobbing her head slightly to the music. Assensing revealed that she was an aware.
Welcoming them to the meeting and offering them refreshments, the conversation quickly became less polite. The J was cryptic and wove insults into her speech, the team enduring a large amount of denigration. Cricket especially, insulted back. Eventually, a vague job description was hashed out. The woman wanted the team to kill a man in an Ares compound, James Reilly, and search his room for commlinks and data chips. Additionally, she wanted two other chips placed in very particular locations. One was to be placed in an exact location in a nearby park, and the other was to be stealthily placed in another worker's room in the compound, a person named Alissa Johnson. While the assassination could be loud and detected, the other two objectives had to be done quietly. Any alert in those objectives would spell failure.
In return, the J offered a vague payment, with a bonus for a good performance and deductions for problems. Wanting something a bit more defined, they managed to get the bonus incorporated into the default payment and received a half-spoken promise of bioware. Voltage also asked for a new arm.
The team varying degrees of angry at the J, they still ended up accepting and left to begin research.
Vic's first and last plan was to call Amrei Veidt. Wanting information and aid, it was promised on the condition that Vic passes her the contents of the chips. Not exactly able to do that herself, she turned to Cricket for help. While this was happening, Cricket had already failed to resist the lure of forbidden knowledge.
Leaving the meet with two datachips that she wasn't supposed to open, it was only a matter of time until she opened them. Heading to a safer place, she took a look at one of them, the chip to be placed in Alissa Johnson. The file was encrypted and databombed, but using techno magic, she bypassed all of that, getting a copy of the data within. With anticipation, she opened the contents, only to see lines of gibberish. It was encoded.
Not at all sure how to actually read the file, she decided to call a friend to Uncover The Truth. Commlink ringing, Cricket called News Van Dan to decrypt highly secret data. As Cricket started to talk with Dan, about to tell him about what she was up to, she felt a presence behind her, waves of power rolling over her. Slowly turning around, she faced a spirit, elven in appearance, holding a shining sword directly at her.
Cricket mixed her normal bravado with a bit of fear and tried to tell the spirit to fuck off. The spirit did not. They did send a message though. Keep trying to do this and die. Eventually, the message sunk in enough for Cricket to not call Dan again. Over DNI though she sent copies of the encoded message to the rest of the team, warning them that they might have spirits observing them.
Vic, getting both the data and the warning, immediately sent the datachip contents to Amrei. Eventually, she called back, apparently having cracked the code and being intrigued by the knowledge within. While she didn't tell anything about what was inside, she gave an overview of the two targets at Ares and requested that Vic pass over anything else she finds of interest.
Voltage and Zero decided to do some physical recon, first to check out the park and then the building. They headed over to the park in Bellevue, only a few blocks from the target building. Suspicious that something more was at play here, the searched around, both physically and astrally. Nothing seemed to be amiss though. Heading to the specified location, they found a small envelope wedged between a trash can and bench. This was where they were supposed to put the data chip they were given. Obviously concerned that something bigger was happening here, they continued further trying to find the hidden "trap", but ultimately found nothing. It was just a normal park.
Leaving the area, they decided to pay a visit to the Ares compound. Three floors, surrounded by a medium sized wall, only a single gate led inside. Cameras were liberally placed throughout, so finding an uncovered way in would be difficult. Zero decided to check for astral things, and started astrally perceiving, on Voltage's shoulders for a better vantage. The first thing she noticed was a watcher spirit. The watcher spirit noticed too. After staring at each other for a few moments, she hurriedly told Voltage to leave, so Voltage dropped her in a panic, literally, and they left the scene. She also saw a ward around the building in the chaos.
Next Cricket did a variety of matrix searches to gather information on the two targets, the building they will have to enter, and the building that they got the job from.
All together, from that and earlier information gathering, they found out the following.
The primary target, James Reilly, was a human wage-mage stationed at the location for the past few years. Working primarily as a magical consultant and bureaucrat, he checked off on designs, answered questions, and generally did incredibly boring work. A quiet man, with few attachments beyond networking at corporate events, he seemed to be an incredibly bland person.
Alissa Johnson was a bit different. A employee at the Ares subsidiary operating in Tir Tairngire, she was visiting Seattle on a temporary assignment, going to meetings and the like. Mundane, she worked as a liaison with local officials in the Tir, schmoozing her way into the good graces of those in power and trying to keep logistical chains moving freely and business operations steady.
As far at the team could tell, there was absolutely no connection between the two targets, both in terms of work and personal connections. They seemed entirely unrelated to each other.
Cricket, curious about the J, dug into the place that they met her, trying to find out more about the job and calm her conscience enough to proceed. It was a tough thing to uncover, but after digging through countless shell companies, she found a clue. The trail led back to Tír na nÓg, the exact source uncertain, but contextual evidence pointed towards one of the ruling families, the Danaan. Thinking this over, she felt good enough to proceed. As she felt, taking the money of one rich elven fragger to probably mess with another, was not so terrible of a job that she had to back out. Sending this discovery over to the rest of the team, she decided to hack into the Ares host.
A quick look around gave her something promising. Dodging the spider, she found a list of Janitor maglock keys. With some blank keys, she could register the team, giving them access to the public areas of the building, and, during the day only, the rooms. Wanting to coordinate with the team, she exited the host before she fell to the other big temptation there. A large, heavily secured host floated menacingly in the air, holding untold secrets and rewards. Alas, it also had a warning promising lethal response to any hackers foolish enough to enter, so she decided to wait until the run to mess around.
The plan came together after a bit of deliberation. Cricket would hack the host, registering the team as janitors for maglock access and then try to disable the camera systems. With this, the rest of the team would enter the building under the cover of night, sneak up to the two different rooms, break in and accomplish the mission. Simple, and hopefully effective.
Cricket, critical to this plan, drugged up and entered the host. As she materialized, everything looked much the same. A spider still lurked around, and the files were as she remembered. Quickly, she registered the team, but then noticed that the camera system wasn't controlled in the host she was in. She would likely have to go in the nested host above her. Excited, she started the hacking attempt, only to fail immediately. The host, alerted, started to deploy IC and the spider went to work. However, using sprite assistance and an utter lack of fear, she managed to worm her way inside before things got too bad.
However, the interior host turned out to be worse. Inside she found two personas, one a rigger and the other a spider on the hunt. As she started to initiate combat with the spider, unfortunately they did the same, having seen her when she entered. As the data spikes started to fly, she noticed on other important thing, Black IC was likely about to deploy. The warning wasn't exaggerating. Cricket still felt confident, well, until she got hit with a massive brute force attack, coupled with biofeedback and a link lock. This quickly had become a fight for her life.
Luckily, she managed to disable the spider and rigger before the IC deployed, giving her a brief window to escape. Before she did though, she managed to cut the camera feed for several minutes, buying the team time to work.
The other three members infiltrated the compound, the disabled technical defenses and keycards making the job fairly easy. As they started to ascend, there were a few scares with wandering security and spirits, but Vic and Voltage managed to take down several guards, quickly and non-lethally. Heading towards Riley's room, Vic picked the door, and the team entered to perform a fairly easy assassination. The man was glorified middle management after all. This worked fine, until he woke up and hit the entire team with overcharged mind magic.
Zero reacted fast and managed to shield the team from the worst of the effects thankfully, leaving only Vic somewhat under his thrall. As the man began to dodge attacks, likely about to hit them with some other incredibly nasty spell, Voltage managed to shoot him with a silenced weapon, killing him. Taking a moment to collect themselves after the shock of what happened, Vic headed to the secondary target and planted the keycard in her room, in a spot not immediately obvious.
As the team left the building, they remembered that they needed to plant the datachip in the park. Heading over, worried that this was a trap, Zero checked out the astral, only to find the guardian spirit from before was hovering right next to them. Somewhat unnerved, the spirit peacefully stayed there, smirking slightly as Voltage and others yelled at it. Eventually though, they planted the chip and left to go get their payment.
The J was pleased with their performance. They did the work as promised and alerting Alissa to what they planted in her room. As she gave the credsticks to the team, she pointed Voltage's attention to a case sitting on a table. Excited, she opened it up, ready for her new arm. Inside, was, well an arm. An elven arm, fresh from a body. Voltage was not pleased. As Cricket and Voltage tried to restrain themselves from seriously attacking the J, the J's wide smile broke Cricket's resolve. Taking the arm, the hacker tried to smack the J with it, failing utterly. After a bit more rage, the J's malicious cheer faded, and she warned them to stop, telling them that she was no longer enjoying their insolence, adopting a more threatening demeanor.
Somehow the team managed to back off, and they took their payment and left.
24,000 Nuyen (48000 of Bioware of Betaware or lower)
1 arm for Voltage
1 Chip on Amrei Veidt for Vichnozeleny
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
I do not know how to feel about this. I fear my involvement in this job may have ruffled the wrong feathers; other runners working for rival gangs puts me on edge, but it appears that they did not recognize me. Good. This means I have done my job well. I have little else to add to the performance itself; all were apt at their roles, although I am suspicious of the involvement of this 'middle executive' mark we had to take care of.