Trick or Truce
|Trick or Truce|
|Part of Hail to the Pumpking|
Pump King Jack
|Casualties and losses|
|Several of Sophocles' hospitalized civilians died in a bombing before the team could stop it.||A good deal of explosives.|
A Johnson meet gets bombed. The culprits get apprehended.
Pump King Jack's tried to be as welcoming and nice as possible to other gangs, within reason of course. Since he's not intending on causing more mayhem than is necessary, he intends on forging relations with opposing groups that can allow him to spread in Sophocles without interruptions. This is an unprecedented move for a nightmare spirit, yet another sign of his lateral thinking and grasp on abstract concepts growing as his intelligence develops. To this end, he's reached out to a people person that can handle these kinds of talks better than he can, Levine Asdrubael Velen, a retired Ancients member.
Asdrubael and the gang meet in a bar in Touristville, Redmond. He's cleared a small aisle for them to take part in and while some get drinks, he is already snorting novacoke off the table like a true living rock-n-roll legend. The bar turns out to be a strip club called Lizzy's Lounge; once it was owned by the Cutters, but currently has an anonymous owner with suspected ties to japanocorps or even Humanis. Despite these rumors, it allows all metatypes to work without harassment and even some college students work in the club to make a living during their studying years. With feminine-leaning and masculine-leaning stages on two separate sides, both preferences are fulfilled relatively well. Asdrubael is on the former and welcomes the runners, admitting that he never expected to be working for anyone even remotely aligned to the Halloweeners.
While he starts explaining how Jack reached out to him, some of the team's sharper elves notice an orc businesswoman staring at them intently and leaving quickly once she realizes she's been noticed. This quickly raises the team's suspicions and they intend on trailing them as Delphi's Danger Sense notices something off. She only has a split second to warn everyone to get down before it feels like the entire club explodes. Asdrubael gets yanked down under the table by the team to shield them from most of the rubble coming down. Once they recover from the explosion, they're quick to get back up and see most of the patrons of the club entirely dead either buried under rubble or turned to red paste on the walls. Chemsniffer rings detect saltpeter in the air. As they chase after the orc, the exit seems to have the Ancients' logo spraypainted onto it, along with the word 'TRAITOR' -- presumably this is aimed at Asdrubael.
Before having even finished the meet, the team springs into action, both trying to track down the orc and get the hell away from a crime scene that'll be swarming with cops in short order. Asdrubael takes off and tosses them a commlink to contact him with. He'll be in touch if he finds something, but for now has to vacate ASAP so that he won't get caught up in legal proceedings. He has a family, after all. While the trail of the orc can be found, it goes around some city blocks, seemingly in a car, then passes through the background count caused by the bombing itself as a way to obfuscate the trail. Infuriated, the team's mages think of alternatives and head to a local free spirit's lodge to get a relaxing place to cast spells in. Informer, the noir spirit in the flesh (except not really) feels offended to be near people like Mara that break his aura of noiriness. Despite this, he exits the building for a while and lets the team do their thing in his lodge.
The chase takes them to a parking lot where the escape vehicle can be found burning, an exploded wreck. Delphi uses her psychometry skills to try and ascertain more, finding a vivid flash of a mysterious second party speaking to the orc woman before the bombing. Further investigation by Argent and Asdrubael, as well as some Matrix searches give off that a phrase they uttered, Strength and Honor, is an outdated motto that the Sons of Sauron used years ago. Clearly, this was intended to be a double-cross to drive a wedge between the Ancients and Halloweeners, but investigating only made it blatantly obvious that this isn't related to the SoS whatsoever. They're yet another smoke screen to obscure the true culprit, which the team then realizes is going to hit another target, Jack's Starscreamer fortress in Sophocles. As they speed towards Sophocles as fast as possible, they're too late and can only screech to a halt as the field hospital of the Starscreamers goes off in a gigantic explosion, sending bricks and mortar flying high up in the air along with innocent lives.
It's only then that the culprits arrive, noticing the explosion and starting to back up frantically. The team gives chase and while it's close, a few shots almost hitting in the worst of ways, Mara's spirit ends up causing enough of a distraction that they wreck the rear axle of the getaway car and catch up to their quarry. A bald human male sticks them in a stalemate, threatening to detonate the remaining explosive briefcase and take his evidence to the grave if the runners try getting closer. Together, Chammy and Delphi try their best to convince him that he has a genuine way out of this situation.
It's a dangerously tense moment and bit by bit the augmented man drags his orc accomplice in a nearby apartment block's stairwell, where Delphi and Chammy try to talk things out. Turns out, the man is part of the Spiders, an insect spirit-hunting gang of surprisingly large proportions that has remained mostly underground and out of sight. Given Jack's rapidly expanding influence, they've taken it to themselves to nip this astral threat in the bud as well by vetting every group possible against him. While the runners got in the way now, they still consider their own deaths worth it if it means Jack gets ganged up on and murdered. Pell's sneaking closer and closer, same as Mara, but they're spotted before they can get a sneaky shot in and in a split second scuffle he drops the briefcase.
It's only barely caught before it hits the ground and possibly explodes, and both of the Spiders are shot full of stick-n-shock stun rounds.
Argent and Asdrubael both show up ASAP and agree to arrange at least some form of negotiations with Jack, if only to spite the Spiders that almost busted one of their living legend members. Jack is also very appreciative of this and as a result the team gets paid, having saved their own hides, thwarted a nefarious plot to create a gang war and, inadvertantly, further secured a shadow spirit's position in the Seattle Sprawl. However, they still have a bomb in their hands. While they manage to bypass the timer partially, it only bought them some time before it detonates. As a result, they drive to the closest lake, have Mara's air spirit carry it to the middle of the lake, drop it and leave. The team drives away as fast as they can as the briefcase sinks nearly to the bottom of the lake, its explosion causing a water column several dozen meters high to emerge. Talk about safe bomb disposal!
- 30,000 Nuyen
- 1 Karma
- 2 CDP
- 2 Halloweeners (Starscreamers) Reputation
- 2 Ancients Reputation
- Optional Contact: Pump King Jack 4/1 Halloweener Usurper (4 RVP)
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
That spirit really gives one nasty vibes. I think I have to keep an eye out for that and what better way to do that then to keep in contact with him? I may not really like it, but I think it's necessary to do so. And those Spiders sure are no good people. The right goals but their methods... Bombing a hospital? Really? Even if they were nothing more than meat sacks for that spirit it still is a statement on how far you want to go. Brainwashing to get new people also aren't a great indicator that your thing is a good thing. I hope that kid will be fine after the surgery.
I can't say that I enjoyed this job. We were nearly exploded at the meet and it was a wild goose chase from there. Interesting Johnson and perhaps more interesting client. We happened to meet when it was clear that the bomber had assassination of our employer in mind. By interesting I don't necessarily mean good. This shadow spirit is a very dark thing, but there is something different about it, almost like it's trying to be a good person. Perhaps they already are better than many metahumans. Still, it's probably not a good idea to trust it.
- Delphi - Performed negotiation, psychometry and suggested a helpful divination. Her cyberwear censors likely saved several of us at the meet. I can't help but think that situations like these all leave little marks of trauma on her, though.
- Chammy - An infected individual. Good with words and conversation. I did not get to see any other significant capabilities.
- Pell - Crack shot to stop our little Spider terrorist from getting away. The girl had been brainwashed and we endeavored to help her get out of a bad situation. Pell was instrumental in making that happen.
- Pump King Jack - The spirit in question. A free shadow spirit perhaps. Oddly friendly when we spoke with him and though something was clearly very wrong about him and his base, I couldn't help but feel like he had less ill will than the ones that were trying to blow us up from the beginning.
Well, that was clusterfuck and a half. At least we've averted the beginnings of a full-blown gang war, I think? Need to keep a closer eye on Jack.
I was psyched about working for Asdrubael when I found out who he was, and I'm glad to have earned whatever goodwill with the Ancients by saving his ass from being exploded, but damn did this ever turn into a fuster-cluck and it's honestly a miracle that everyone emerged unscathed. This business with that strange spirit can't be good, but I'm frankly at a loss for how to do anything about it - the only people who seem to be trying to do something about it are bomb-crazy lunatics who put chips in people's heads to trick them into being terrorists. I mean, what the actual frag? Seriously, first nightclub bombing and then a hospital? Who the hell do these people think they are? I might have been sympathetic until they tried to blow me up! Goddamnit, stupid assholes. Hopefully the Ancients know better than to get involved in this drek.