Taking a Bite Out of Crime
|Taking a Bite Out of Crime|
In which Relay and Santesso do a good deed for someone in need, and end up sticking their noses in where they don’t belong by stumbling onto a conspiracy and a secret organleggers clinic in the process.
Relay is on his lunch break at work when he receives a call from his lawyer contact Samantha Forrester – she is also on her lunch break, and evidently much busier than he is, so she gets right to the point and tells him that an old law school colleague has reached out asking for help, and that while she wants to do what she can it’s not really her legal area of expertise and she’s swamped with work for her firm. Relay asks what the issue is, and she says that her friend – an attorney from Chicago named Jason Barnes – has been arrested for murder. She explains that Jason is a ghoul who does pro-bono work for Mothers of Metahumans doing outreach to the Ghoul Liberation League, and that he was in town for meetings when he was found in a Touristville motel passed out with a half-eaten John Doe’s body after KE received an anonymous tip. Jason claims to have no memory of the incident, but the police see it as an open-and-shut case and clearly have little interest in investigating the matter. She thinks that there must be more to the matter and would like to find something which exonerates Jason of the crime.
Relay agrees to help out of the kindness of his heart, so Forrester forwards him the file she has – including a police report with a mugshot of Barns (a relatively-handsome ghoul with some biosculpting work and cybereyes) as the victim (an unknown individual who has been partially devoured) and gets back to her work. He calls up his pal Santesso, who at that moment is watching old detective trids and working on his vehicle when he receives the call – he agrees, and the two of them meet up for coffee to go over the information they have and think of what to do next.
Acquiring caffeine, Santesso calls up his own attorney contact Betty White to get some hints as to how he should approach the matter, and ask whether or not she has any ins with the police that might help – Betty takes him through the “detective solves a murder by looking for clues” routine from the trideo shows before giving Santesso a lesson in how law enforcement works in the Sixth World (i.e. KE ain’t doing drek unless it gets them paid, and arresting this ghoul shows they’re doing their jobs, so they have no reason to look into it further, especially if the deceased was some SINless nobody).
Relay and Santesso ready their respective agents before dropping into VR comas and chasing down data trails for clues. Relay looks up Jason’s work with MOM and other reasons he might have been in town, as well as doing a search on the Chicago firm where he works (Jackson and Barns, a small two-man partnership which evidently mostly deal with real estate transactions for properties in in the West Side of the city inside the former Containment Zone – he is unable to place a connection between the two, so he calls up the firm to inquire further and ends up having to wait until the next morning to hear back.
Santesso meanwhile focuses his efforts on finding out more about the murder victim – the photo they have is of a man with rather distinctive eyes (a detailed examination suggests biosculpting work for a custom hue as well as what looks like genetic augmentation for tetrachromancy). He is initially not able to find much, but after a few hours of digging through old forgotten and half-deleted posts his Mona Lisa software returns a hit on an old photo to match a name to – evidently the deceased was one Liam Carrick of Chicago, who wrote a one-hit wonder song about 20 years ago which received some level of notoriety for its subject matter (being a heartfelt expression of the trauma of Bug City) before fading from the limelight and disappearing after Crash 2.0.
Heading to Relay’s safehouse, Santesso uses EAARS to continue his VR deep dives while Relay takes care of some personal matters and calls up Forrester’s office to get paralegal credentials in order have authorization to visit the KE precinct and take a witness statement from Jason; he is able to convince the clerk at the Redmond precinct to do his job, however they will not be able to visit until the next morning, so Relay heads to bed while the insomniac Santesso continues his matrix searching.
Now equipped with a name, he is able to locate some information on the Ares Global Grid, and one grid-hop later he finds a “Behind The Music”-esque “Where Are They Now?” special featuring an interview with Carrick (wearing sunglasses for most of it and obviously strung out with withdrawal symptoms, looking much the worse for wear). The interview itself is unremarkable, but Santesso hears something oddly familiar about the tone of the interviewer’s voice which he is unable to place which leaves him restless for the rest of the night.
In the morning, Relay receives a call back from Jason’s legal partner and attempts to get a bit of information out of him without revealing the true purpose of the call; he is able to intuit that Jason’s partner was unaware of the reason for his extended absence or that he had any business in Seattle besides his pro-bono work for MOM. Confused as to the reason for this deception, and for why he would contact Forrester’s office instead of his own legal partner, the two puzzle over the matter for a bit before trying to clean up as best they can, putting on their nice suits to go and pretend to have a legal reason to enter a police station.
Santesso has an R6 fake SIN but isn’t too eager to put it to the test, so Relay heads inside with his real SIN and real law office credentials, managing to get into a room with Barns (and subsequently get the plastic divider placed there “for his safety” removed). His hope was to have Barns turn his cybereyes on so that Santesso could look through them to see if any of the incident was recorded, but he is dismayed to find that KE have removed them from his sockets (as they figure he can see on the astral anyway, plus they want to sterilize and sell them for a quick buck).
Jason seems hesitant to talk while being recorded (as he knows whatever he says will be used against him), so Relay plugs into his datajack and links the three of them up over DNI. Relived, Jason explains that he contacted Mr. Carrack because he was looking for someone familiar with the inner workings of a company called “A New You”, which runs a chain of bio-sculpting and gene treatment clinics that Carrack evidently worked for some years ago. He says that the company has been sponsoring a redevelopment project in Chicago near the Shattergraves – a notoriously difficult area to redevelop due to the persistently high background count as well as the local ghoul population – and after looking into the legal paperwork he grew concerned about where some of the money was coming from.
Relay has Jason take him through the events of the night as best he can remember them (there is about an hour-long gap of lost time during which he blacked out and woke up in police custody). He admits that he has no other explanation for what happened, only a certainty that he didn’t do it, and this is enough for Relay and Santesso to continue their investigation. Before leaving, Relay demands “his client’s” possessions, and after nailing 7 hits on his pre-edged negotiations receives a box with everything but the eyes (which have already been stolen).
Hacking Jason’s commlink, Santesso is able to use the GPS data to retrace his route from the motel where he was found to a nearby parking garage, so the two go there to investigate his vehicle. Upon arrival, Relay’s extra eyes in his arm spot out a pair of sinister-looking masked figures lurking nearby and observing from the shadows, but when he goes to investigate he is unable to find them. Santesso is able to spot out a pair of silent running commlinks and watchdog a mark onto the pair of them before snooping on commlink traffic – he hears a raspy voice communicate with one that is familiar to both the runners. It is their shared contact Zigzag, a ghoul organlegger with the 162s, however before they hear much of the conversation the marks are noticed and the two icons go dark.
Freaking out just a tiny bit, Santesso quickly hacks the vehicle to remote pilot it out of the garage and the two beat a quick retreat as Relay throws off any trails they might have. The two discuss this development while heading to the scene of the crime and deploy their respective drones when they arrive – one is able to sneak inside and view the murder scene, while Relay manages 10 hits to spot out the chameleon-coated van parked a ways down the road in an allyway. His laser microphone confirms that Zigzag is inside, complaining to someone she refers to as “Tiny” about “their backers” making her do a stakeout in the middle of the day and speculating about “what’s the point of all this drek”.
The two come up with the idea to attempt to fool the not-very-smart ghoul into thinking that they were sent by their employer for some daytime recon work (having recently managed to earn a bit of a reputation with them, see: Red vs. Green). Zigzag isn’t very clever and Santesso is good at spinning bullshit, so he not only manages to convince Zigzag that they’re here to relive her, but gets her to offer up her thoughts on the matter with only gentle prodding. She declares it stupid to go to all this trouble to frame one drekhead for a murder instead of killing him, but that she “doesn’t question orders from the folks who pay the bills” (knowledge rolls regarding the Underground fill the two of them in on the fact that she is most likely referring to Tamanous).
Working together to get her to say the right thing, Relay and Santesso string Zigzag along and record her admitting that she and “Tiny” kidnapped Jason and drugged him with lael wine before leaving him with a corpse that was there when they arrived (with a hulking troll voice complaining about only getting a bite from the perfectly good body). She has no idea what to make of the matter, but thanks the pair of them for coming to bail her out so that she can go and get out of the sun. Santesso flies his flyspy over to hide under the van’s bumper, and follows it all the way out into the barrens (where his noise reduction keeps it online) before ending up at an abandoned-looking building near Glow City (where an area jammer knocks it offline and causes it to return to home base autonomously with the coordinates).
Puzzled by everything they have learned and still struggling to put all the disparate pieces together, Relay and Santesso put their findings together and call up Forrester with the recordings – she says it’s not a whole lot to go on, but she can use it to introduce reasonable doubt into the case and at least get Jason released on bail. She is as puzzled as they are over the reasoning for his secrecy, and his commlink reveals little to help them connect the dots, but Jason appreciates their help immensely and informs Mothers of Metahumans of who helped facilitate his release, who forward some nuyen from their legal defense fund as thanks for their efforts. Relay and Santesso have also endeared themselves further to Zigzag and the 162s, and vow to exploit this connection in order to look further into the matter.
- 6,000 nuyen
- 4 karma
- 2 CDP
- +1 MOM rep
Contact Loyalty Increase: Zigzag from 1>2
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
I’m not sure how much we did for Barnes...nothing we uncovered is admissible in court...but maybe it’s enough to get him that day in court. It’s up to the lawyers now. Relay and I worked well together...a well oiled machine...but I think we’re just at the beginning of something. To quote the old movie: "I’ve got a bad feeling about this...." - Santesso
AAR | Relay
We're not done yet...this isn't enough. We know he's innocent, and we're pretty sure he's being shut up by an organ legging corp that funds chop shops. Look, every single person's life has value. Becoming infected is a miserable change...so the ones that hang on to their souls and try to do the right thing? They stack up a couple of chips in their favor.
I've had too many die to the handiwork of my drones. If I can balance out the karmic scales a little bit...well, that'd be a hell of a thing. We've bought some time, but now we've got to pull on that thread and--when the fabric of this unravels--maybe we can save his life.
I think Santesso is gonna keep looking. I know I am.