Cyberpunk 2036

Episode 14 Monkey in the Middle

November 6th, 2037

Zen and Helios are hanging out at the rebuilt Forlorn Hope on Friday night. There isn’t much action, though most patrons are happy just to have their favorite watering hole back up and running. Early in the evening, they are approached by a tall man, with dark grey hair, wearing a rumpled business suit and carrying a brief case. He asks them, in a Russian accent, if there is a back door out of the place, and they point him in the direction of the back alley door. He then immediately heads for that door.

Zen and Helios take a few moments to decide if they are going to let their curiosity get the best of them. Ultimately it does, and they head out the alley door as well. In the alley, they find the man to be the very recent recipient of two bullets to the chest. A man in a suit searches through the dead man’s pockets while another individual stands watch. They both are armed with silenced pistols. At the end of the alley, a black sedan waits.

Zen and Helios demand to know what is going on. The standing man reveals an ID and states that they are members of the SovOil Internal Security Unit, and that this is an internal corporate matter, therefore no business of the edge runners. The two men question them, demanding to know what he did inside the bar. Zen and Helios tell them the truth, detailing their brief run in with the now dead man. The other two seem satisfied with the answer, but not satisfied with their search. Eventually, they take the brief case, get into their sedan, and drive off.

The two edge runners return to the bar and explain to the Professor what has happened. He indicates that he will call a meat wagon to clean up the mess. It then suddenly occurs to Zen that whatever the men were looking for may still be in the alley. She and Helios begin to search the small but cluttered alley. Eventually, Helios’ dumpster diving proves fruitful as he finds a data disk with the SovOil logo on it.

They return home and ask Torrent to take a look at the disk. It is password protected, but Torrent cracks it with minimal effort. The next obstacle proves more challenging however. It seems that the entire contents of the disk are in Russian, which none of them speak. A quick stop at the local chipware shop remedies that problem, however, as Helios and Torrent each purchase a Russian language skill chip. Helios also splurges on a photographic memory skill chip.

Back home, Torrent begins to peruse the contents of the data disk. Download records indicate that the information on the disk was taken from a SovOil mainframe here in Night City. The information was downloaded using a terminal belonging to a S.I. Servinoya. The content of the actual data includes product testing reports, security assignments and troop movements, as well as the geological survey results for a plot of land in Alaska. Torrent knows enough about geology to know that the last bit of information could be quite valuable to a competitor of SovOil.

November 7th, 2037

Riptide is at the Forlorn Hope when he sees a man speak to the Professor, who then points Riptide out. The man approaches Riptide and asks if he knows a couple of Asian individuals, one an attractive female, the other a muscular male. Knowing that the man is referring to Zen and Helios, he inquiries as to who this person is. The man introduces himself as Gil Braham, an employee of Petrochem. The two beat around the issue a bit before it becomes clear that the main topic of discussion is the SovOil data disk. Riptide confirms that his compatriots do indeed have the disk and would be willing to sell it. A price of $20,000 is agreed upon and the Nero Club downtown is settled on as the location for the exchange.

Riptide returns home and shares the news. It would be easy money, but a couple of issues are considered. One is would SovOil be willing to pay to have the data returned, and how did Gil know they have the disk? If Petrochem knows they have it, does Kerosov also?

Riptide contacts the local SovOil office and asks to speak to someone in their internal security branch. He is put in touch with a Dmitri Yablonov. Riptide offers to sell the data back to them for $40,000, but the security man says he is not interested at that price and hangs up.

With Petrochem now being their only option, they plan for the meeting scheduled for 8:00 PM. They decide to arrive early, with Zen, Helios, and Riptide sitting at a table waiting for Gil. Saito will wait at another table near by. Torrent will remain outside and act as a scout.

They travel to the Nero Club, each on their own motorcycle. They arrive about 7:30 PM and put their plan into action. They choose a table near the back corner of the club. Due to the upscale nature of the club and the prohibition against any weapons bigger than pistols, the team is forced to go in lightly armed and armored.

Gil arrives promptly at 8:00 PM with two others in tow. One flashes a security badge at the doorman, allowing the three to enter without being checked for weapons. They look around a bit until they spot the three at the table. They approach and Gil sits down along with one of his companions. The other one, the one who flashed the ID, remains standing.

First they make a little small talk, discussing how Gil found them. Turns out Gil was on his was to meet Severnoya at the Forlorn Hope when he say SovOil agents approaching. He remained a block away and watched events unfold. He observed Zen and Helios search the alley afterwards and discover something which he guessed to be the data disk.

Gil asks to see the disk, which Riptide turns over to him. Gil then gives it to his sitting companion who takes the disk and plugs it into a small disk reader. He then jacks into the reader via interface plug, and goes silent. After several seconds, he nods to Gil who is turns over the money to Riptide.

About this time, Torrent spots a black van pull up about a block away, turning its lights out, but leaving the engine running. He radios in to the rest of the team. Gil sends his man to check it out. The solo steps outside briefly and then returns reporting that the van belongs to SovOil.

Gil decides its time to leave, but the team is concerned that SovOil is simply waiting for them to step outside. They then begin formulating a diversion plan in which some would exit out the back while others would exit out the front. They are about to execute their plan when suddenly there is a loud “pop!” Many people in the bar cry out in pain, some, including Saito and Gil’s Netrunner, begin to have seizures. Everyone else suffers from sever headaches and muscle tremors. Cyber-eyes cease to function and those with skill chips cannot access them. Everyone except Gil and his Solo seem affected. At the same time, outside, the black van takes off towards the bar, squealing around the corner and coming to a stop by the back alley. Torrent watches as three men exit the side of the van into the alley, and another three exit the back of the van and head toward the main entrance. The men are in full tactical gear and are armed with assault rifles.

The team, Gil, and his men, all move toward the front of the bar. There is no door there, but some rather large windows. Gils’s netrunner and Saito are carried along as their seizures continue. Riptide draws his gyrojet pistol and attempts to shoot out one of the windows. Unfortunately, someone picks that exact moment to stand up and tell everyone to remain calm. The gyrojet round is intercepted by the man’s head, sending brain and skull fragments flying everywhere.

The nervous crowd now goes into complete panic mode and begin fleeing toward the exits. This works to the team’s advantage, as the solos attempting to come in through the front entrance are pushed back by a sea of humanity.

Riptide’s second shot finds it’s intended target and one of the front windows explodes. The team and the others began climbing out onto the front walk. Torrent relays that the three solos at the main door are now moving to the front of the building. Was it a lucky guess, or did they somehow know that’s where the team was?

Realizing that the van will allow the solos to pursue if the team manages to escape, Torrent jacks into the Net and hacks the local Lo-Jack database. He finds the registration number for the SovOil van and sends a signal to disable the engine. He then deletes the van’s account so that Lo-Jack cannot re-enable the engine. He returnes from the Net to find Riptide and the now recovered Saito exchanging fire around the corner with the three solos.

Zen, Helios and Riptide are able to get Gil and his men to their car and send them on their way. They then go to regroup with the others who are still trading fire with the solos. They then spot the three other solos that had emerged from the side of the van into the ally now moving through the diminishing crowd inside the bar, heading straight for them.

Helios, Torrent, and Zen decide to circle around the other side of the building. Riptide and Saito, who have taken down two of the solos outside, decide to press the advantage and charge towards the van. They take down the third solo and move towards the van but find resistance from the two men in the van.

Helios, Torrent and Zen come around the corner into the alley and are able to draw off the fire from the two men by the van. Just when things ware looking up for Riptide and Saito, the three solos that had moved through the bar had climbed out the window, came around the corner and were now shooting at the two edge runners. Both are badly wounded, but are able to make it to the van.

Helios gets to the van and immediately starts bypassing the Lo-Jack system to get the engine running again. Most pile into the van, while Torrent takes his motorcycle and they make their getaway as the sirens of approaching police can be heard.

In the win column, the team made $20,000 and acquired a van. In the loss column, they lost four motorcycles and Riptide and Saito would need to spend some time in the hospital. Everyone’s neural processors are damaged, and any skill chips they had on them at the time are blank. The pop must have been an EMP. That meant the data chip was likely wiped as well. Gil was unaffected, probably because he mostly likely did not have a neural processor. His solo was smart gun linked however, so he must have had one. He was not affected when the EMP went off, however. That means he must be EMP shielded, which is a very expensive upgrade. It’s the kind of upgrade you only get if you’re expecting that sort of thing to happen.

As an interesting side note, a news report the following day indicated that Gil Braham was found dead in his car along with his netrunner. Both were shot at point blank range. The solo was not found.